No More Mistakes! How to Comply with Colorado Law

Colorado vaccine law including exemption requirements are stated in CRS-25-4-903 (2)(a)(b).

 “(2) It is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian to have his or her child immunized unless the child is exempted pursuant to this section. A student shall be exempted from receiving required immunizations in the following manner: (a) By submitting to the student’s school certification from a licensed physician, physician assistant authorized under section 12-36-106 (5), C.R.S., or advanced practice nurse that the physical condition of the student is such that one or more specified immunizations would endanger his or her life or health or is medically contraindicated due to other medical conditions; or (b) By submitting to the student’s school a statement of exemption signed by one parent or guardian or the emancipated student or student eighteen years of age or older that the parent, guardian, or student is an adherent to a religious belief whose teachings are opposed to immunizations or that the parent or guardian or the emancipated student or student eighteen years of age or older has a personal belief that is opposed to immunizations.”

Breakdown:

  • A parent can submit a medical exemption for their child. As defined by law a medical exemption must be written by a medical doctor or a doctor of osteopathy. However, some states allow a state-designated health care worker to certify that a mandated vaccine would be harmful to an individual’s health. It must state which vaccines are contraindicated. This exemption needs to only be filed once unless the medical condition or child’s information changes. Medical exemptions are accepted in all 50 states. 
  • A parent can submit a personal or philosophical exemption. This individual must hold a thorough objection to vaccines. This statement should include the student’s full name, age, date of birth, the date the exemption was filed, the immunizations declined and which type of non-medical exemption taken (personal or religious belief). If you do not want your child’s immunization information shared with CIIS (Colorado Immunization Information System) you should add that to your statement. This statement must be filed each year with your child’s school and expires each year on June 30.  
  • As an American, it is our constitutional right to exercise our personal religious beliefs. The government shall not pass any law that obstructs the exercise of freedom of religion. This means that you hold a genuine religious belief that vaccinations contradict your religious obligation to your creator. Some states may require a signed affidavit from your pastor or spiritual advisor and others may need a notarized signature on a religious exemption. California, Mississippi and West Virginia do not allow religious exemptions. 
  • Both types of exemptions may be filed online with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). If they are filed online the information will be entered into the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS). The form may contain objectionable language.
  • You can also submit your exemption by printing out the form from CDPHE. This form may contain objectionable language. Use caution when reading, and read it in its entirety before deciding to sign. There is also a place to sign that will permit to INCLUDE the information in the CIIS. It is your choice whether to sign that line. Schools will try to say the form isn’t acceptable until that line is signed. That is simply not true.
  • You can opt-out of the CIIS by printing out the form found on their website and mailing it in. 
  • School nurses may not know that you are allowed to submit your philosophical or religious exemption statement of exemption, by law. Some are insisting you use the form from the CDPHE that contains potentially objectionable language. You do NOT have to use the form. 
  • Also, you can choose to opt-out of the CIIS. If you choose to opt out it is also recommended that you write a statement to your physician stating that you do not allow your child’s information to be shared with CIIS. 

You must obtain a vaccine exemption in all 50 states that require children attending public school to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (generally in a DTaP vaccine); polio (an IPV vaccine); measles and rubella (generally in an MMR vaccine); and varicella (chickenpox). Each state has a set of regulations for its vaccine law. It is important to note that these laws vary from state to state. Currently, Colorado state law allows a parent/guardian to submit their own signed statement stating religious or personal exemption information directly to their school to retain federal privacy under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.    

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