Colorado lawmaker moving to eliminate personal belief vaccine exemptions

Colorado lawmaker moving to eliminate personal belief vaccine exemptions
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A Colorado state lawmaker is drafting legislation to eliminate an exemption that allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for personal reasons.

The Denver Channel reported Friday that Democratic Rep. Kyle Mullica has begun drafting the bill, which would make it more difficult for parents to opt out of vaccinations.

The effort comes after Colorado was found to have the lowest rate of vaccinations in the country, according to the outlet, which noted that less than 89 percent of kindergartners are vaccinated against illnesses such as measles and mumps.

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"To hear that we were last in the entire country was concerning, it was embarrassing," Mullica said. "This is not a political issue, this is about our kids being safe," he continued.

The bill also comes after a flurry of measles outbreaks across in the Pacific Northwest and in New York state.

Mullica went on to say that Colorado is one of the easiest states for obtaining a personal belief exemption for vaccinations, something that he says should change.

"Colorado is ranked as one of the easiest places to obtain some of those personal exemptions, or non-medical exemptions, and I think that's probably played a role in where we are," Mullica said.

"I don't want to wait for that kind of thing to happen in Colorado. I want to be proactive, not reactive," he added, referring to Washington state's outbreak in which more than 60 children have reportedly contracted measles.

The bill's future faces steep obstacles, including from Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisColorado becomes first state to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs School awards honorary diploma to student killed in Colorado school shooting Colorado secretary of state bans employees from traveling to Alabama after abortion law MORE (D), who argued that forced vaccinations create mistrust of government.

"Governor Polis is concerned about how low vaccination rates negatively impact public health. He believes there are successful strategies we can use to increase vaccination rates that don’t put big government in the middle of the parent-child relationship and protect our freedom," Polis's spokeswoman told the publication. 

"Governor Polis believes that forcing people to receive shots they don’t want creates mistrust of government, mistrust of vaccinations, and would ultimately backfire and hurt public health," the spokeswoman continued.