At a time when science and common sense are finally pressing ahead in Colorado, efforts to protect children and the public from potentially deadly diseases have failed again.
State lawmakers have offered a virtually useless bill in what proponents say is an effort to increase the state’s dismal and dangerously low vaccination rate.
House Bill 1312, introduced recently by State Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, is a victory for a growing number of misled and thoughtless parents who subvert mandatory vaccination laws, citing pseudoscience and disinformation.
While much of the public, and almost every doctor and medical professional in Colorado, are clamoring for laws that mandate vaccinations, residents got shafted with HB 1312.
Current law lets vaccine scofflaw parents write a note to the school saying they don’t want to vaccinate their kids.
Mullica’s bill would require them to fill out a form instead.
Forms don’t keep kids from spreading diseases that kill and maim people. Vaccines do. Nothing in this bill will do anything to improve Colorado’s dire and potentially deadly vaccine problem.
Centers for Disease control report Colorado as the 49th worst state for kindergarten vaccine compliance. Several schools have student populations where as much as a third of the kids go to class without vaccinations. In some schools only 1 in 5 students are vaccinated.
It’s disheartening that state lawmakers won’t even try to close dangerous vaccination loopholes while reports of bigger and bigger outbreaks of diseases like measles and mumps smite the nation.
A current outbreak in New York City has sickened hundreds, and 21 people required hospitalization. Five of those cases required patients to be treated in intensive care, according to reports in the New York Times.
The outbreak is now so serious that health officials there are closing public schools and facilities to those who are not vaccinated.
For the past few years, state lawmakers have failed to push through legislation requiring that parents vaccinate their children before enrolling them in public schools. It’s the dangerous and dreaded “personal belief” exemption.
It means that there are now so many children not vaccinated for chicken pox, mumps, measles and Rubella that Colorado has become a tinderbox for a viral plague.
And almost all of this potential horror is brought to you by often “educated” parents who’ve fallen victim to endlessly debunked anti-vaccination conspiracy theories.
This cult-like obsession is so strong that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has said he doesn’t want to sign a bill that requires vaccination because it might only increase these parents’ distrust in the government.
Too damn bad.
President Trump and his supporters agonize over Colorado and the nation sidestepping them to address global climate change. They, too, site pseudoscience and pure ignorance in not believing in global warming and choosing not to address it.
While discussing the vaccination dilemma during a Sentinel Colorado editorial board meeting recently, Polis did say he would consider a bill that would defer to local health departments and school districts.
That’s better than nothing, and it’s a hell of a lot better than filling out a form.
Supporters of paperwork-over-vaccines discount the fact that this controversy isn’t about empowering parents to control their children’s medical treatment. This is about a growing minority of parents risking the health and lives of millions of Colorado children and adults — for no logical, provable or sensible reason. This is about a group of Colorado residents who are horribly misguided and mistaken and willing to risk the wellbeing of their own children and those of others.
Ending this dangerous vaccine exemption doesn’t force parents to vaccinate their children. It only forces them vaccinate children if they attend public schools. For those who continue to subscribe to quackery over science, the option is home or schools where like-minded parents start private places that invite viral catastrophes.
Government should absolutely accommodate differences of opinion. Anti-vaxers, however, are not acting on scientific or medical opinion. They’re forcing all of us into increasing risk based on nonsense, lies and hysteria.
Legislators need to at least allow for local school districts and health departments to protect children and the public by requiring vaccination. Anything else only empowers junk science and puts at risk the health and lives of others.