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RBC I The Colorado Board of Health has passed new immunization rules that will require parents to obtain non-medical exemptions from immunization requirements more frequently. Currently, parents who wish to sign a non-medical exemption do so just once.
Beginning in July 2016, parents seeking non-medical exemptions for pre-kindergarten children will need to submit exemption forms at each age when recommended vaccines are due. Then, from kindergarten through 12th grade, they will need to submit exemption forms annually.
Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and executive director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said, “Reducing vaccine exemptions is just one part of ensuring Colorado’s school children and communities are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Research shows that children whose parents claim exemptions are more likely to get and transmit vaccine-preventable diseases. Increased exemption rates lead to greater rates of vaccine-preventable diseases in communities.
Also beginning in July 2016, schools and child care centers will be required to annually submit data on immunization and exemption rates to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The department will make the data available to the public. This will allow parents who are concerned about risks of vaccine-preventable diseases to make informed decisions on school and child care choices. It also will provide more timely and accurate data for schools and public health officials in case of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
In addition, the department will make available a voluntary online education module including information on the diseases that vaccines prevent, the benefits and risks of immunization and evidence-based research, resources and information from credible scientific and public health organizations.
Colorado’s current non-medical exemption rate is 4.6 percent. That national average is 1.8 percent.