As a resident of Colorado if you want to protect your right to take a personal belief exemption to vaccination for your child to attend daycare or school without suffering harassment from the state, you need to contact your state representative and senator today and make your voice heard on HB 1288. You also need to attend a public hearing in the Colorado House of Representatives House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on Thursday, March 13th at 1:30 p.m. in Room 0107 of the State Capitol.
THE FACTS ABOUT HB 1288
NVIC Colorado State Advocacy Director Cindy Loveland stands in front of one of the buses in the Denver historic district featuring an NVIC ad educating city residents and visitors about the need to make informed vaccine decisions. The ads ran from February to mid-May 2014.
If HB 1288 passes, it will legally require parents choosing to delay or exempt their child from one or more of the vaccines required for school for personal belief reasons to first:
- Submit a "certificate of completion" to the school or daycare that the parent has completed an online vaccine education module developed by state health officials; OR
- Obtain a signature from a physician or other state-approved vaccine provider or an authorized representative of the state health department certifying that the parent has received state-approved vaccine education.
The bill gives authority to state health department officials to determine the content of the information and how often parents will have to submit to the new requirements.
This proposed legislation is based on recommendations made from a report issued in December 2013 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) following a vaccine stakeholder public engagement project heavily stacked with members advocating for the exemption process to be made more difficult for parents.
MARCH 13 PUBLIC HEARING ON HB 1288
The first public hearing in the Colorado legislature on HB 1288 is scheduled for Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm in room 0107 of the State Capitol. If you want to attend and sign in to give a short oral statement of your opposition to this bill, please see the action alert for HB 1288 on http://NVICAdvocacy.org
NVIC POSITION ON HB 1288: OPPOSE
- The legislation singles out and discriminates against a minority of parents with sincerely held personal beliefs about vaccination by 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.
- The legislation threatens the medical privacy of students by requiring that daycare centers and schools publicly release information about the percentage of children who have filed personal belief vaccine exemptions. This increases the potential for state sanctioned harassment and discrimination against these students and their families.
HB1288 falsely assumes that parents taking personal belief exemptions are not educated when published scientific surveys and studies have consistently demonstrated that parents exercising the personal belief exemption for their children are highly educated. 
While parents targeted by this bill are being portrayed as being ignorant, thoughtless and selfish, research published after the 2013 vaccine stakeholder public engagement project conducted in Colorado confirms that parents delaying or declining one or more vaccines for their children are twice as likely to proactively begin vaccine decision-making deliberations before their child is born. Parents exercising the personal belief vaccine exemption are also intellectually re-evaluating their decisions eight times more often than parents who give their children every federally recommended vaccine according to the recommended schedule.
In addition, surveillance data in Colorado indicates it is unlikely that a decrease in personal belief vaccine exemptions will affect infectious disease incidence in Colorado, including not having a significant impact on pertussis incidence.
COERCION AND EROSION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
Colorado HB1288 and others bills like it threaten the legal right of Americans to exercise informed consent to medical risk taking and make voluntary health care decisions for themselves and their children free from government intrusion and coercion. The legislation unjustly creates a vehicle for state-sanctioned harassment of and discrimination against a minority of citizens with values and personal beliefs differing from those held by public health officials and medical trade groups associated with pharmaceutical corporations.
Vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry risks of injury or death and some individuals with environmental, genetic and biological risk factors are more susceptible to harm from vaccination. It is a fact that no public health official or doctor can predict who will be harmed by a vaccine or an infectious disease because known risks have not been fully quantified and there are other unknown risk factors that have not yet been identified by medical science. 
PERTUSSIS VACCINE IN COLORADO: A VACCINE FAILURE
Although Colorado is the fourth most-improved state for a decline in vaccine exemption rates,  surveillance data from Colorado’s last pertussis epidemic in 2005 shows that pertussis containing vaccines (DtaP, Tdap) are failing to control the disease among Colorado’s children.
Many gaps exist in Colorado’s disease and vaccine uptake surveillance data but, where vaccination status is available, it reveals that higher pertussis incidence cannot be assumed to be due to children with personal belief vaccine exemptions.
Just prior to the Colorado vaccine stakeholder public engagement project, NVIC asked a number of questions of the CDPHE regarding disease incidence in the state. Their response to NVIC’s request for data on the impact of personal belief exemptions on disease incidence was that it was “unavailable.”
NVIC has asked for clarification from CDPHE because we want to know: Is the data on the impact of personal belief exemptions on disease incidence in Colorado “unavailable” or is it UNKNOWN? At the time of publication of this NVIC Newsletter, we are still waiting for a response.
NO PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS
Colorado does not have a public health crisis necessitating a vaccine exemption statute change. While pertussis outbreaks are being used as a hammer to stampede the legislature into passing HB 1288, the CDC has acknowledged that the unvaccinated are not to blame for recent outbreaks, as evidenced by Colorado’s own surveillance data. In addition to exemptions declining in Colorado, the state is also has increased vaccination coverage for all vaccines for children aged 19-35 months old.
TAKE ACTION NOW IF YOU WANT TO PROTECT VACCINE EXEMPTIONS
NVIC’s Advocacy Portal has issued an ACTION ALERT for Coloradoans to take action to protect the basic human right to make health care decisions free from discrimination, coercion and sanctions by the state. Every voice counts – your legislators need to hear from you and your friends and family NOW asking them to VOTE NO on HB 1288 or your legislators will assume all their constituents – including you - want them to vote FOR the bill.
Your action is needed to protect the precautionary “first, do no harm” and informed consent principles in all of Colorado’s vaccine policies and laws. When you become a registered user of the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal, you are provided with talking points and are immediately able to connect with your own legislators on your smart phone, tablet or computer.
If you haven’t already, please sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal today (and ask your family and friends to sign up, too) so you can stay up to date on what is happening with HB 1288 and other vaccine bills in your state that affect you and your family. Stand up for your informed consent and parental rights before they are taken away or severely restricted.
It’s your health, your family, your choice.
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