Written Testimony on Colorado HB 14-1288
Colorado Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee
Posted Date: August 27, 2015
Dawn Richardson - April 9, 2014
Dear Honorable Members of the Colorado Senate,
The non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), founded in 1982 to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and protect the informed consent ethic, opposes HB 1288 on behalf of our Colorado donor supporters. NVIC is a pro-informed consent consumer advocacy organization that secured vaccine safety and informed consent provisions in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.
NVIC opposes the passage of HB 1288 because it singles out and discriminates against a minority of parents with sincerely held personal beliefs about vaccination by incorrectly assuming they are uneducated and should be forced into a state approved “education” program. Under the guise of education, HB 1288 makes it legal for the state to brand a minority of citizens as intellectually or morally inferior and serves to harass and coerce citizens making health care decisions for their minor children. This violates the informed consent ethic and is a violation of human and civil rights by the state.
HB 1288 requires parents using a personal belief vaccine exemption to submit a "certificate of completion" to their child’s school or daycare that the parent has completed an online vaccine education module developed by state health officials or to obtain a signature from a physician or other state-approved vaccine provider certifying that the parent has received state-approved vaccine education. The bill will also require all daycare centers and schools to publicly release the percentage of children at the daycare center or school with vaccine exemptions.
HB 1288 threatens the medical privacy of children and sets them up for harassment by requiring their individual school or daycare to publically release vaccine exemption rates upon request. With such small numbers of children using vaccine exemptions at most schools, HB 1288 increases the probability of a child’s private medical information including vaccination status being compromised without parental consent and the child and family being singled out, harassed and discriminated against. This is already happening in California since the passage of AB2109.
There is no public health justification for a Colorado vaccine exemption law change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report being used by bill supporters to assert the misleading claim that Colorado has “among the highest rates of personal belief exemptions in the nation”, 4.3%, was derived from a simple random survey of only 350 of the estimated 70,657 kindergarten students in Colorado. This report actually shows exemption rates went down from the year before and that CO was the 4th most improved state. Vaccination rates in Colorado children are equal to or better than national averages in every vaccine series that the federal government tracks through the national immunization survey. The CDC’s own data show that vaccination rates for each required vaccine is near or above 90% each. It is misleading for bill supporters to say 20% aren’t fully immunized when almost 90% or greater of all kids have each individual required vaccine. According to the Colorado state health department, the impact of those using personal belief vaccine exemptions in Colorado on disease incidence is unavailable. Colorado’s own disease and vaccine surveillance data reveal that higher pertussis incidence cannot be assumed to be due to children with personal belief vaccine exemptions.
Vaccine risks are real. Vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry the risk of injury and death. The federal government and research has acknowledged that no vaccine is 100% safe or effective and no public health official or vaccine provider can determine who will be protected or harmed by a vaccine. Only 1-10 percent of all vaccine reactions are reported and, according to the Institute of Medicine reviews of vaccine safety, individual susceptibility risks are unknown. The vaccine injured are as real and should be valued as much as those impacted by infectious disease. The federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has awarded almost $3 billion to the vaccine injured and another $3.5 billon (and growing) has been set aside for future awards.
This hits home. Since 1990, 7180 Colorado citizens have filed Vaccine Adverse Event Reports with the CDC and FDA, 3459 are in Colorado children from birth through 18 years, 608 reports are associated with disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness or death in Colorado citizens, and 59 Colorado citizens have died after vaccination.
Vaccines fail. Colorado’s own surveillance data for pertussis cases in children from 7 months to 9 years old from 2005 through 2011 shows 71% were appropriately vaccinated. The CDC has acknowledged that recent pertussis outbreaks cannot be blamed on the unvaccinated. Bill supporters fail to recognize that many parents who delay or decline a vaccination have a child or close family members who have experienced serious vaccine reactions. When a drug company manufactures a vaccine that fails to protect some people, it is not the responsibility of those who have already had trouble with their vaccine to keep using it. State forced “education” on the parent of a child who has had a vaccine reaction to try and convince them to keep vaccinating is harassment, discrimination and just plain cruel.
In light of all the new vaccines coming, vaccine exemptions should be easier to obtain, not more difficult. Over 4,000 vaccine clinical trials are being funded or conducted by federal health agencies and pharmaceutical companies. Most new vaccines will be mandated by state health department officials. New vaccines are being developed for infectious and non-infectious diseases, including: gonorrhea; syphilis; chlamydia; HIV/AIDS; genital herpes; RSV; cytomegalovirus; hepatitis C; tuberculosis; e-coli; norovirus; salmonella; malaria; botulism; West Nile virus; asthma; diabetes; obesity; high blood pressure; anti-cocaine and heroin use; antismoking and tooth decay. As more of these vaccines get added to the schedule, more families will be seeking an exemption and this new process will frustrate and anger many families who will not change their vaccination decisions.
HB 1288 will not only fail to change a parent’s decision to not vaccinate, it is likely to strengthen their resolve to not vaccinate. Recent research shows that this type of vaccine education fails and even backfires. A recent study published in the March 3rd edition of Pediatrics concludes: “Current public health communications about vaccines may not be effective. For some parents, they may actually increase misperceptions or reduce vaccination intention.” It goes on to say that attempts to increase concerns about communicable diseases or change perceptions about vaccines may be counterproductive.
NVIC urges the members of the Colorado Senate to oppose HB 1288.
Director of Advocacy,
National Vaccine Information Center