Colorado bill tightening vaccine exemptions is signed into law

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a controversial vaccine bill Friday afternoon with no fanfare or advance notice.

Senate Bill 163, which adds a step for parents who want to exempt their children from vaccines, received final legislative approval on the last days of the 2020 session. It had received pushback from a vocal minority of parents who oppose restrictions on vaccine exemptions.

The new law requires parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids to either provide an exemption from a medical professional or watch an online video about vaccines and submit a certificate of completion. Also, school districts must provide students and parents with their schools’ vaccination and exemption rates.

The law goes into effect immediately.

Polis gave his support for the bill aimed at increasing Colorado’s vaccination rates, among the lowest in the country, after opposing a similar bill last year.

Republicans — except one of the bill’s sponsors — voted against it, saying it violates parents’ rights and creates privacy issues. Legislative support for the bill was not in question given that Democrats controlled both chambers of the General Assembly, but hundreds of parents attended hearings to testify against the bill, making it difficult to pass after the coronavirus pandemic shortened lawmakers’ session.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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