State lawmakers take shot at lowering vaccine exemptions

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. State legislators are ramping up efforts to get less vaccine exemptions filed at schools and more immunized children in classrooms.

A new bill is proposing education to keep the population free of preventable diseases.

"I'm against government mandates for the most part, but I'm not against education," said Dr. Donald Nicolay, chief medical officer for Community Hospital. "I think in this case to have patients understand the importance of getting vaccinations or the risks they take if they don't get vaccinations is extremely important."

Under the current system, parents can simply fill out a form to opt out of immunizing their kids for personal reasons, but this bill would require them to first watch a video or speak with a doctor and then have a health professional sign the exemption form.

Morgan Wadsworth, a mother of three, has her children on a slower-paced immunization program.

She said parents should have the final say in what they believe to be safe for their children, but having reason behind the decision is important.

"Parents should definitely research it and talk to their doctor so that would probably be a very good idea," Wadsworth said.

Nearly 6% of students in kindergarten through 5th grade in District 51 had exemptions on file during the 2012-2013 school year and 4% did not have an exemption or immunization record on file at all.

The bill wouldn't change the procedures for children with religious or medical vaccine exemptions.

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