Despite massive opposition from thousands who protested at the State Capitol and flooded lawmakers with emails, SB-163 was passed by the Colorado General Assembly on Saturday, June 13. The bill was aggressively pushed through the legislature, which even held a Sunday session to advance the legislation in the face of a pandemic and extreme civil unrest.
The bill’s sponsors claim that SB-163 is needed to improve public health. However, the state’s vaccination rates have not led to any infectious illness outbreaks warranting such legislation.
Moreover, last June Governor Polis signed an executive order aimed at increasing Colorado’s Kindergarten immunization coverage rates. He outlined numerous directives, and the results of those efforts have not been made publicly available. Therefore, we don’t know if the targets or initiatives he established via the executive order have been successful. That makes this bill premature and even more unnecessary.
All in all, SB-163 erodes health freedom in Colorado and violates families’ civil and constitutional protections. Specifically, it:
- Discriminates against individuals by forcing them into a state-mandated program that tries to reeducate them on their sincerely held religious or philosophical beliefs. Individuals could instead try to get their sincerely held beliefs validated by a medical provider; however, there is no guarantee that any provider will sign off on those beliefs, so it’s not an assured mechanism of relief.
- Violates families’ privacy by forcing all students who delay or decline any required vaccine into the state vaccine tracking system (CIIS), which lacks informed consent and any privacy protections. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) 45 CFR 164.512(b)(1)(i)is a federal law that allows disclosure of private and protected health information without knowledge or consent for conducting public health surveillance, investigations or interventions. This includes information in state vaccine registries and tracking systems, including CIIS, that can be used to identify individuals and/or groups of people who are not vaccinated with all doses of all the federally recommended vaccines so interventions can be applied. Approved interventions include home visits. The only privacy protection currently afforded is FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and that will be lost if SB-163 is enacted.
- Deceives legislators and the public by spinning the state’s vaccination and exemption rates to create the illusion of a crisis. SB-163 supporters have repeatedly stated that Colorado has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and this misrepresentation is often cited by the media. The rates that have been quoted are for kindergarten students only and do not reflect all students. If officials instead used the statewide rates posted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the MMR rates cited are 94.32%, which a is much higher figure than those commonly quoted. Moreover, the state’s vaccination rates are likely even higher. Many schools are not proactively collecting missing records, so the data they have is incomplete and inaccurate.
- CDPHE and public health officials have a long history of spinning data, most recently with the way that they calculatedCOVID-19 deaths. It’s incumbent on the Colorado legislature to demand transparency and accurate data before they decide to enact laws and public health policies.
- Wastes taxpayer dollars on unnecessary legislation when the state is facing a severe budget shortfall. The legislature should not be passing unnecessary laws that create additional costs when cuts are needed.
- Creates additional burdens and costs not reflected in the fiscal note for schools by requiring every school to provide yearly comparative vaccination and exemption rates for MMR vaccines, with the ability to report on all vaccine rates. This information is already available on the CDPHEwebsite and has been available since HB 14-1288 was passed.
- Requires schools to “engage” with students and families in order to achieve a stated 95% vaccination rate goal for all vaccines required for school. Schools are already bogged down with numerous administrative requirements; the state legislature should not be placing additional costly burdens on them. The current fiscal notefor SB-163 does not take any costs it imposes on schools into consideration.
- Puts Colorado’s educational system in further jeopardy. As it stands, the state will likely lose students due to uncertainties around COVID-19. Because SB-163 applies to students of all ages, adults who do not want to fulfill the state’s vaccination requirements may choose to opt out of Colorado’s higher education system, which has been facing an enrollment crisis and is already in dire financial straits.
- Tell Governor Polis that SB-163 is harmful to Coloradans and must be stopped. Please email, call and tweet him NOW and ask him to veto SB-163 immediately!
*Stand for Health Freedom would like to thank the National Vaccine Information Center for its analysis of SB-163 and the data cited in this campaign.