In an interview with Hill.TV on Feb. 26, 2019 regarding vaccination policy, Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis stated that, while he believes people should get vaccinated, he does not support government efforts to force parents to vaccinate their children. “It’s important that parents vaccinate their children, but you can’t do that at the point of a gun,” said Gov. Polis. “When the government tries to force parents to do this, it creates distrust in both vaccinations and distrust in government.”1
The state of Colorado provides exemptions based on religious, philosophical or personal beliefs to parents who do not wish to give their children all of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 50 doses of 14 vaccines from the day of birth to age six. According to Gov. Polis, “Most states have a waiver process that’s slightly different in different states, and yet Colorado has a lower rate [of vaccination] and so clearly we need to change some of our policies to try to encourage people to do what’s best for their kids.”1 2
Legislation, however, is being proposed to change the available waivers in Colorado. Kyle Mullica of the Colorado House of Representatives is currently drafting a bill that would seek to eliminate the state’s personal belief exemption—a move opposed by Gov. Polis, who stressed that the ultimate decision on whether to vaccinate one’s children should be made by parents, not government.1 3
On Feb. 8, 2019, Rep. Mullica held a public meeting at the state capitol building in Denver to allow parents to share their concerns about government vaccine mandates. Among the many parents who participated was Lindzee Schwartz. “We do not believe that the government should be mandating health choices. That is up to each parent,” said Schwartz.4
Jessica Eberhart, another parent who attended the meeting, said, “Not everybody has the same genetic makeup, not everybody has the same genes… having a one size fits all approach for something like vaccination or any medical procedure for that matter really needs to be looked at carefully.”4
Eberhart’s views echo comments made earlier this week by the National Vaccine Information Center’s Barbara Loe Fisher to The Washington Post. “You cannot bring down the hammer on people and force them to obey one size fits all when the risk is not being shared equally,” said Fisher. “We consider this to be parental rights, a human rights issue.”5
1 Bonn T. Colorado governor defends exemptions: States can’t enforce vaccines ‘at the point of a gun’. The Hill Feb. 26, 2019.
2 National Vaccine Information Center. Vaccinations: Know the Risks and Failures. NVIC.org.
3 Bowden J. Colorado lawmaker moving to eliminate personal belief vaccine exemptions. The Hill Feb. 23, 2019.
4 Blase C. Could vaccine exemptions change in Colorado? KOAA-TV Feb. 8, 2019.
5 Sun L. Anti-vaxxers face backlash as measles cases surge. The Washington Post Feb 25, 2019.