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Testimony on Colorado HB 14-1288

Colorado Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee
Theresa Wrangham - April 9, 2014

Posted Date: August 27, 2015
I am Theresa Wrangham, the Executive Director for the National Vaccine Information Center and a Colorado resident. NVIC opposes this bill. This committee just received a Vaccine Information Statement, or VIS, and is now legally ready to be vaccinated.

The VIS outlines the benefits and risks of vaccines. It is all that is required by federal law to educate parents choosing to vaccinate. There is no legal requirement for a vaccine provider to verbally explain the information or obtain a signature from the parent certifying it has been read or understood.  
The VIS exists because, like all pharmaceutical products, vaccines carry the risk for injury and death. It exists because parents of pertussis vaccine injured children, not pediatricians or health officials, asked Congress to institute vaccine safety and informed consent reforms in the U.S. vaccination system. The co-founders of the non-profit Dissatisfied Parents Together, which created the National Vaccine Information Center, led that historic vaccine safety reform effort on behalf of all children.
NVIC is recognized as an organization of standing with subject matter expertise and is currently participating in the revision and updating of the VIS. I am serving as NVIC’s representative in that federal process.
Those harmed by vaccination are as important as those harmed by a disease. Every life must be valued with the acknowledgement that we do not all respond the same way to vaccination or infectious disease. Because  no public health official or vaccine provider who can predict if a child will be protected or harmed by a vaccine, the precautionary principle of “first do no harm” retains its primacy in public policy. This principle recognizes the full impact of a policy may not be known due to scientific uncertainty, incomplete evaluation and limited understanding and focuses on how much harm can be prevented, not how much harm is acceptable or rare.
HB 1288 is not about education or “equal effort.” HB 1288 is discriminatory because it burdens those choosing to take vaccine exemptions with higher education requirements than federal law requires for those choosing to vaccinate. Itcategorizes a minority of parents as uneducated, although the evidence base consistently shows these parents are highly educated. HB 1288 is coercive because it requires additional state sponsored education or a health care provider signature to obtain a personal belief exemption, putting the state or health care provider in the position of approving another citizen’s religious or conscientiously held beliefs.

Colorado is the 8th healthiest state in America and state health department data shows that the majority of pertussis cases are occurring in children fully vaccinated against pertussis. The CDC has admitted that recent pertussis outbreaks cannot be blamed on the unvaccinated. There is no public health crisis in Colorado and state health officials admit they are unable to determine the impact of exemptions on disease incidence, the immune compromised or the costs related to vaccine failure.

We respectfully ask the committee to oppose HB 1288. I am happy to answer questions about my statement.

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