Two Colorado Republican lawmakers, state Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins and state Rep. Lori Saine of Firestone, are hosting the third and final “Vaccines and Health Care Choice Summit” at Colorado’s capitol Monday.
The summit will feature presentations from various anti-vaccine activists, including Theresa Wrangham, Executive Director of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a non-profit “dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and death.”
NVIC is considered one of the most powerful anti-vaccine organizations in the country, and is a leader in the promotion of misinformation about vaccines, like the falsehood that they cause autism.
The event’s stated purpose is to “generate a series of recommendations on vaccines and health care choices” and “discuss if those recommendations should be incorporated in CDPHE rulemaking or codified into statute.”
Vaccine opponents have been active in Colorado recently, particularly around the issue of exemption law. Earlier this year, lawmakers pushed a bill to make it more difficult for parents to opt their kids out of immunization requirements by mandating that they acquire an in-person signature from a health department in order for an exemption due to religious or personal beliefs, a policy that anti-vaccine activists vehemently opposed. The legislative clock ran out before the bill, which was introduced late in the 2019 legislative session, was able to make it to the state Senate.
The proposed legislation came as measles outbreaks reached record numbers across the country. Only 87 percent of the state’s kindergarteners received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine during the last school year, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Herd immunity, which occurs when a significant portion of the population is vaccinated, requires vaccinations rates of 90 to 95 percent.
Other speakers include Boulder Valley School Board member Shelly Benford and Michael Gaeta, a doctor of acupuncture and a “natural healthcare professional” whose goal is to create “a world of vital, resilient people” who choose a lifestyle of “nature first, drugs last,” according to his website.
Gaeta hosts several web trainings, one of which aims to inform about the purported dangers of vaccines and, among other things, teaches that the concept of herd immunity is a sham. It’s not.
The event, which was rescheduled from its original date in October due to weather, is set to take place Monday, Dec. 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Colorado State Capitol, Room 271.