HB20-163 removes power from legislators and gives it to CDPHE and state Board of Health.  It requires CDPHE to create standardized forms for medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions, which may include compelled speech and perform annual evaluations of the immunization program based on ACIP. Based on that evaluation, the State Board of Health has the authority to make or change immunization requirements or practices for school entry moving forward. It will take authority from the legislative process and give it to CDPHE and the Board of Health.
It is important to understand the SB 163 is a copycat bill of HB 1288 from 2014. SB 163 defines a ‘non-medical exemption’ as a religious OR personal belief whose teachings oppose immunizations. This bill requires a person who wants to claim the non-medical exemption for immunization to submit either:
- A certificate of completion of the online education module or
- The certificate of non-medical exemptions
These forms may be written in “compelling speech,” which would incriminate parents, but they would be forced to sign and date. Having to receive a certificate for religious reasons under a non-medical exemption is regulating an establishment of religion and preventing the free exercise of religion.
Impact on religious and personal exemptions
An individual exercising their religious freedom MUST:
- See a physician who may or may not understand religious stance.
- Have a higher financial and personal burden.
- Will have religious and personal exemptions combined under the heading of “non-medical exemptions,” essentially removing leverage regarding religious and personal freedom going forward.
- Ask a professional to determine if your religious beliefs oppose vaccination.
By removing the distinctions of “Religious” and “Philosophical” and placing both into one category of ‘Nonmedical Exemption’ this bill will effectively remove one of the three current exemptions. Coloradans will lose their right to religious freedom and liberty of conscience. Why would Colorado legislators violate religious freedoms and liberty of conscience?
Schools: New requirements and creation of “vaccine protected children standard”
The bill creates a vaccine-protected children standard. The student population immunization rate goal for every school is a 95% vaccination rate in the student population. The bill requires the department to amend an immunization document it currently publishes annually to include information about the vaccine-protected children standard. Every school shall publish its immunization rate and exemption rate on the document and annually distribute it to the parents, legal guardians, and students of the school.
You can view the module tracking vaccine risk on the CDPHE website:
Schools will be provided with information to educate students about vaccines, the risks and where to receive the vaccines.
SB 163 attempts to negate our long-standing liberty and create non-medical exemptions that would fall under the approval (at what costs, time, and effort) of physicians. This puts an undue burden on doctors to accommodate “exemption visits” to obtain a certificate.
Increased administrative load on medical professionals
How is that going to damage the ability of other sick children to get the health care they need from these doctors? Doctors overloaded?
What training will the doctor have to determine a valid philosophical or religious reason for not vaccinating?
The CIIS tracking information includes PII:
- Date of birth
- Phone number
The goal of SB 163 appears to be data and tracking. The CIIS registry targets people as if they were criminals with reminders, recalls, and home visits. This registry is opt out, there is no definitive language stating who has access to this registry.
The two pieces of information that are most concerning are date of birth and social security number. Thereby, the risk is collecting PII on children without any proof of protection or restrictions on data mining. The government doesn’t belong in our healthcare or our medical decisions. You Medical, religious, and personal belief exemptions will be submitted to the vaccine tracking system, CIIS.
The education module and non-medical exemption signed by a doctor will circumvent FERPA and require reporting directly to the state to be tracked.
How does this affect medical exemptions? Current law does not require a state medical exemption form. It is unclear if SB 163 would require you to update your ME if/when the child changes schools. This form needs to be submitted yearly.
Impact on homeschoolers
Currently, exemption laws are handled at the state level. School districts may or may not require exemption forms from homeschoolers. The CDPHE may require homeschoolers to submit their certificates to the local school district as a condition for schools to get home school supplemental funding.
Impact on minorities
Parents of disabled children already have to fight FAPE and IDEA adding another burden on parents that are already concerned about the medical needs of their children.
How will families who cannot afford internet get their certificate from the online module?
- The cost to develop, translate and update website, inter-active module, and forms into all needed languages
- Cost to develop educational materials for schools & parents
- Cost to annually review all procedures, forms, modules and practice immunization