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A Colorado bill to tighten vaccine exemptions moves forward

A Colorado bill to tighten the process parents use to opt their children out of vaccines is headed for a final vote in that chamber after nearly three hours of debate Thursday and one person being asked to leave for yelling, “We will not comply.”

The bill would require parents who choose not to vaccinate their children to either get a medical provider to sign off on a form for a nonmedical exemption or receive online education about vaccines. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment would maintain a confidential database with information on students who have opted out.

It passed second reading on a voice vote, so it’s not clear how many or which lawmakers supported it.

Despite a consensus from medical professionals on the efficacy of vaccines and polling showing a majority of Coloradans support the proposed measure, the bill has received significant pushback from a vocal minority of parents who say they are being discriminated against for their choices. Parents who say they have children who have been injured from vaccines or who oppose having their information in a government database have been fighting the effort for the second year in a row, testifying against the bill at a hearing last week for more than 15 hours.

The opponents, who are of mixed political ideologies, have found allies in most Republican lawmakers. A GOP bill seen as an antidote to Senate Bill 163 died in committee Wednesday.

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