Colorado Is Finally Taking on Anti-Vaccine Protestors — Here's How

While the U.S. is a long way from mandating nationwide inoculations like Croatia, some states are finally taking a stand against the anti-vaccine movement.

Last week, the Colorado State House gave initial approval to a new bill that would require parents who don't want to immunize their children to take mandatory online classes that outline the benefits and (relatively small) risks of immunization. It would also require these parents to obtain an official immunization exemption signed by a doctor or representative of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"This is not mandatory vaccinations, this is not a change to personal belief exemption," said state Rep. Dan Pabon, the sponsor of the legislation. "This is simply saying, 'If you exercise this option, you will get some disclosures about the risks and benefits.'"

Colorado has one of the lowest child inoculation rates in the country, and state legislators hope this bill will change that. Just 18 states allow parents to get vaccination exemptions for their children for medical, religious or personal belief reasons — and Colorado is one of them. Through more fact-based education, this new measure may bring down the number of parents who cite "personal belief" as a reason for exception.

Across the country, many kindergartners are missing their much-needed immunization shots:


Image Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Around the country: While Colorado's number of unvaccinated children is definitely a concern, Oregon, Illinois and Vermont have even higher figures. On the other hand nearly all children in New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Delaware and New York have received their inoculations.

States such as Oregon and Washington have adopted measures to make it harder for parents to get vaccine exemptions; Oregon began introducing the education requirement this month.

"We want to make sure parents and guardians receive science-based information about the benefits and risks of vaccine," said Stacy de Assis Matthews, a school law coordinator in Oregon. "There is a lot of misinformation out there on the Internet."

These public administrators may not have flashy celebs like Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari on their side, but the proposed education programs will hopefully help parents make choices based on fact and not paranoia.

The Colorado bill needs a final vote from the House before moving to the Senate.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

MORE FROM

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

Theresa May announces pact with Northern Ireland's conservative DUP

10 of the DUP's MPs will vote alongside May's party in exchange for more than $1 billion of funds.

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

Theresa May announces pact with Northern Ireland's conservative DUP

10 of the DUP's MPs will vote alongside May's party in exchange for more than $1 billion of funds.