Colorado governor signs bill tightening vaccine exemptions

Colorado governor signs bill tightening vaccine exemptions
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Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisCuomo to serve as National Association of Governors chair Colorado restaurant that reopened against state order closes permanently Exclusive: Poll shows pressure on vulnerable GOP senators to back state and local coronavirus aid MORE (D) signed a controversial bill into law Friday that would tighten exemptions for vaccines in his state.

The School Entry Immunizations Act is aimed at increasing Colorado’s vaccination rate, which is among the lowest in the nation.

The legislation adds an additional step for parents who want their children to be exempt from vaccines for nonmedical reasons, mandating they get a medical professional to sign an exemption form or take an online class about vaccines and provide a certificate in order be able to send their children to public schools. Under the law, schools will also have to make public to students and parents their vaccination and exemption rates. 

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Home-schooled children are exempt from the law.

The legislation gives the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment until the end of the year to create and disseminate a standardized exemption form, and schools will have to start reporting their vaccination rates on Feb. 15.

Polis’s support marks a reversal for the governor who declined to back a similar bill last year. 

“It’s important that parents vaccinate their children, but you can’t do that at the point of a gun,” Polis said in 2019.

Polling has shown high support for tightening vaccine exemptions, though Republicans have come out swinging against the legislation, claiming it violates parents’ rights.