Colo. House panel approves vaccination bill

Photo: Vaccination (iStock)

The bill passed the House Committee on Health, Insurance and the Environment by an overwhelming 9-2.

But before the vote, several hours of contentious debate pitted public health against parental rights and assumed center stage at the state Capitol Thursday.

This bill would require parents who want their children to be exempt from vaccination take an online education course outlining the benefits and risks of immunizations, -OR- they could submit a signed statement from a doctor.

Opponents of the bill say vaccines are neither safe nor necessary and call the bill "discriminatory."

Chiropractor Brad Pennington is a father of two unvaccinated children.

"I'm concerned about the state interfering with parental rights, that I think it's time some one actually steps forward and tells the truth from a health perspective about what's going on with vaccinations," Pennington said.

Medical experts testified that vaccinations help keep both individuals and the public protected from a number of diseases such as whooping cough and measles.

The bill's sponsor, Representative Dan Pabon (D-Denver) said Colorado has some of the nation's lowest vaccination rates for kindergarteners.

“Couple that with two years in a row of pertussis outbreaks, whooping cough, in our schools costing children, parents, school districts, thousands if not millions of dollars in public health costs,” Pabon said.