A Republican-backed bill to prohibit employers, including health care facilities, schools, and daycares, from requiring employees to receive immunizations of any kind was defeated at Colorado’s Capitol this week.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) and state Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) is one of a few pieces of legislation proposed in Colorado this year that target immunization requirements.
“Senate Bill 84 seems to be a bill that resonates throughout time because it is about civil rights,” Marble said of her bill during a legislative hearing in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee Monday. “This is not a bill about the efficacy of vaccinations, and conversation should not go there.”
The conversation did, however, go there. Many of those who testified at the hearing expressed frustration about former or current employers, like hospitals and schools, that required them to receive the flu vaccine.
State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) seemed to hear their frustrations, pointing out the efficacy of the flu vaccine specifically.
“As I look at the Center for Disease Control vaccine effectiveness, I’m trying to understand. Looking at just the flu vaccine for right now, you take the six months to eight years out of the mix and the rate falls below 20 percent of effectiveness,” Sonnenberg said.
Dr. Stephanie James, a professor of pharmaceutical science at Regis University, warned that health care providers are “consistently exposing themselves” to vulnerable populations, like cancer patients and children who are too young to be vaccinated, that are at higher risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Such diseases may cause morbidity and mortality in vulnerable populations, and all health care providers are in constant contact with a variety of populations,” James said.
Specifically addressing Sonnenberg’s comment about the efficacy of the flu vaccine, James said, “An individual may still contract influenza, but instead of that disease causing a 10-14 day sickness, that sickness can be limited to only two to three days.”
“Vaccines are an evidence-backed method to prevent outbreaks,” James added. “Although some people want to say that the science is not settled, all reputable scientific organizations support immunizations.”
Other witnesses who testified in favor of the bill expressed fears that are based on misinformation rather than scientific evidence regarding vaccines, like the myth that they can cause autism or attention deficit disorder (ADD).
“There are just basic civil rights that every person should be allowed to have when it comes to making decisions about their body,” said Marble.
The bill failed on a party-line vote.