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Theresa Wrangham Testimony on HB 14-1288

Colorado House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee
Theresa Wrangham Testimony on HB 14-1288
March 13, 2014

I am Theresa Wrangham, the Executive Director for the National Vaccine Information Center and a Colorado resident. NVIC is a charitable non-profit of over 30 years that is federally recognized as a parent organization of standing on vaccine policy. We participated in Colorado’s public engagement and report on personal belief exemption that HB 1288 is based on. We oppose this bill.

The handouts you just received demonstrates the educational effort made for parents who vaccinate. The Vaccine Information Statement is federally required risk/benefit information. There is no requirement for parents to read it, or for health officials and providers to sign and certify it. It only takes a few minutes to get the VIS and get vaccinated. It took me an hour to obtain a certified approval of my personal beliefs from Oregon’s on-line vaccine education module.

HB 1288’s mandated education is not about “equal effort”. This bill discriminates against a minority of parents by falsely assuming they have not educated themselves, though the evidence base consistently shows these parents are highly educated.

Colorado parents won’t trust mandated education efforts. A 2013 study found that Colorado parents who delay or decline one or more vaccines don’t trust their doctors to give balanced vaccine risk/benefit information and they were eight times more likely to re-evaluate their vaccine decisions than their vaccinating peers. Simply put, this bill is burdensome, state-sanctioned, harassment and coercion of parents.

Vaccination, like any medical procedure, carries with it the risk for injury and death. What other medical procedure requires state mandated education before you can delay or decline? No vaccine is 100% safe or effective and there is no public health official or provider that can a guarantee that the vaccine you get today will protect you and won’t harm you. This bill represents a serious erosion of parental rights and the informed consent ethic.

There is no public health crisis in Colorado and disease incidence and death for vaccine-targeted diseases is low and stable. Surveillance data and costs associated with VTDs have limitations; please ask about those limitations today. This bill cites pertussis as a concern, however, as mentioned by Representative Singer, from 2005 to 2011 71 percent of Colorado children aged 7mo-9 years old who got pertussis were appropriately vaccinated. The CDC has acknowledged that the unvaccinated are not to blame for recent outbreaks, as evidenced by Colorado’s own surveillance data.

We respectfully ask the committee to oppose HB 1288. I am happy to answer questions about my statement, as well as the lack of balance in the public engagement process and report and acknowledged vaccine safety deficits.

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