Colorado law aims to increase childhood vaccination rates

Only 9 local K-12 students had exemptions last year

Given the timing of Colorado’s school entry immunization bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on June 26, there a lot of uncertainties and misconceptions about what it means.

Did Colorado get rid of immunization exemptions?

Do kids need a COVID-19 vaccination to return to school?

Are homeschoolers required to vaccinate now?

The bill is 14 pages long, but for most parents and guardians, the changes that result from it will be minimal. It primarily addresses the issue of nonmedical exemptions — immunization exemption based on religious or personal beliefs.

For reference, Holyoke schools had only nine students with exemptions for the 2019-2020 school year. Among the 311 students in the elementary school, eight (2.6%) were exempt. At the JR/SR high, only one (0.4%) of the 250 students was exempt.

Compared to other states, Colorado has one of the highest exemption rates for nonmedical reasons. In 2018, Colorado ranked last among 49 states that reported kindergarten measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rates. During the 2018-19 school year, 28,874 K-12 students attended Colorado schools without one or more of the required vaccines.

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