DENVER |A new Colorado database tracking kids who have not been vaccinated moved ahead in the state Legislature Thursday.
But the measure faces stiff opposition. Republicans gave the bill a lengthy debate, saying a database could open the door to shaming parents who have opted not to vaccinate their children.
And a last-minute mix-up means the Democratic House will have to revisit the vaccine matter twice before sending it to the GOP Senate.
Colorado has some of the nation’s loosest rules for avoiding required vaccines. Parents must simply state that they have a medical, moral or religious objection, after which their kids may attend public schools.
Federal health authorities said last year that Colorado ranked dead last in school vaccination coverage for measles, mumps and rubella for the 2013-14 school year. Just last month, four cases of mumps were identified in Denver.
Democrats who support a vaccine database in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment argued Thursday that the database does nothing to tighten vaccine exemptions.
“We’re doing absolutely nothing to change that standard,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver and sponsor of the bill. “This is a streamlining bill that takes the burden off our school nurses to collect vaccine exemption forms.”
But Republicans weren’t buying it. They cited an avalanche of opposition from parents fearing Colorado health authorities plan to make it harder to go to school without vaccines.
“There’s a lot of people in this state that do not want to vaccinate their children,” said Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio. “They have that right.”
Others questioned the need for a database.
“How can you guarantee that this sensitive data will be protected?” asked Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Parker.
GOP opponents will have two more chances to argue against the vaccine database.
“Why would we want to post this on a website?” asked opponent Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock. “The only reason I can think is to publicly shame someone.”
Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt
House Bill 1164: http://bit.ly/1YCG5UV