The Colorado Sun’s Jennifer Brown reports:
Concern that Colorado is vulnerable to a major outbreak of measles, mumps or whooping cough has prompted a few school districts to try something new: follow state law.
Colorado requires that school districts exclude students from school if they do not have up-to-date immunizations or exemptions on file. But most districts do not follow that law, and the state health department has no mechanism to enforce it…
Littleton Public Schools picked Friday as the day students still not in compliance — despite numerous phone calls, emails and letters going back to May — were excluded from school. On Thursday, school officials called the nearly 100 students left on the list. And on Friday, those still without vaccinations or exemptions were sent to the office, where parents were required to pick them up.
Boulder Valley School District, which has the highest vaccine-exemption rate in the state, set Dec. 2 as its deadline…
Readers will recall that this year’s legislative session saw a battle over legislation requiring parents seeking an exemption to immunization requirements for their children to file their request in person with the state health department. Debate over the issue went sideways after Gov. Jared Polis waded in less than helpfully to sympathize with anti-vaxxer parents while still supporting vaccination in principle–a mistake Polis walked back later by announcing some limited executive measures to combat the problem.
Republicans, meanwhile, are plowing ahead with making “vaccine freedom” a central election issue. A “Vaccines and Health Choice” summit at the Colorado State Capitol hosted by the Colorado GOP’s “gruesome twosome” Rep. Lori Saine and Sen. Vicki Marble was postponed last week due to bad weather but is expected to be rescheduled soon. During the last four years of Republican majority in the Colorado Senate, legislation to weaken vaccine exemption requirements was the rule that chamber with Senators like Marble and Sen. Laura Woods eager to position the GOP as the anti-vaxxer party.
With school districts now taking matters into their own hands after years of unproductive debate, we expect there to be another concerted attempt to improve Colorado’s bottom-ranked child immunization rate legislatively in the 2020 session. Hopefully better cooperation between the first and second floors of the Capitol–insider shorthand for the legislature and the governor’s office–will result in what every responsible party says they want, fewer unvaccinated children in Colorado schools.