Young boy getting a vaccine

A policy committee of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce voted on Thursday to support a bill aimed at boosting vaccination rates among schoolchildren.

“Vaccines are an effective and proven way to prevent diseases and save lives, which also leads to lower health care costs down the road,” said Loren Furman, senior vice president for the Colorado Chamber. “Our members in the business community strongly support Senate Bill 163 because increasing Colorado’s inadequate childhood immunization rate will lower costs and improve public health across the board.”

The Chamber’s HealthCare Council, one of five policy committees that interacts with legislators and regulators, focuses on legislation that affects the cost of healthcare. Furman added that the cost to treat diseases that vaccines are intended to prevent is “significant”.

SB 163 would define what a “nonmedical exemption” is for immunization, require the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop standardized forms for nonmedical opt-outs and mandate that schools publish their immunization rate. The sponsors are Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Keven Priola, R-Adams County, and Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn.

According to October 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado has the lowest rate of kindergarten vaccinations of any state against measles, mumps, and rubella and varicella.

The bill will have a hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Feb. 19.

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