Wondering how your family is affected by Colorado’s vaccine laws as you homeschool? Read below for what you need to know today — and the history that brought us here.
Current Requirements for Homeschool Families
The School Entry Immunization Act (HB78-1089) was enacted in 1978. The law has changed since its enactment. (See the timeline below for more information.) In 2007, the Immunization Registry Act (HB07-1347) was enacted to expand usage of the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS). Parents have the right to opt-out. (Go here for more information.) Concerns over data privacy continue to plague the system.
With the passage of SB20-163 School Entry Immunization in 2020, significant changes were made to the vaccination law in Colorado.
Current Immunization Law:
Homeschooling parents educating their children under the non-public home-based educational program pursuant to CRS 22-33-104.5 (NOI option) or an independent school organized pursuant to CRS 22-33-104 (2) (b) (Independent School option) are required to keep on file at home:
- A student’s immunization records, as provided by a parent or legal guardian, OR
- A statement signed by a parent or legal guardian that the student is exempt from immunization; click here to view and download an sample form.
(Taken from CRS 25-4-902(6))
Note: Independent Schools may require parents to submit the records listed above to the school.
IF a homeschooled student attends a public school, including a charter school, or a private school for a portion of the school day, the school may require compliance with the new immunization exemption requirements. The new immunization requirements include: 1) an up-to-date certification of immunization from a licensed physician, 2) a certificate of medical exemption signed by a medical professional specified in law, 3) a certificate of nonmedical exemption signed by a parent and a person authorized to administer immunizations within their scope of practice, or 4) a certificate of completion of the online education module.
(Taken from CRS 25-4-902 (1) & (1.5), and CRS 25-4-903)
“The records of each child participating in a nonpublic home-based educational program shall be maintained on a permanent basis by the parent in charge and in control of said program. The records shall include, but need not be limited to, attendance data, test and evaluation results, and immunization records, as required by sections 25-4-901, 25-4-902, and 25-4-903, C.R.S.”
(Taken from CRS 22-33-104.5 (3) (g))
Timeline of Vaccine Law History
SB20-163 School Entry Immunization was introduced in the Senate. CHEC and HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) opposed the bill. Among other things, the bill made it more difficult to obtain exemptions to vaccinations, threatened religious liberty by renaming both conscience exemptions (personal and religious) to “nonmedical” exemptions, and gave more control over the exemption forms and the exemption data to a state department (CDPHE). The bill was quickly heard in the Senate Health & Human Services committee. Testimony began just after 10 am and lasted until after 1 am the next morning. Unfortunately, it passed the committee on a party-line vote. Though it was amended in the Senate, the amendments did nothing to remove homeschoolers from the new requirements as the sponsor had intended.
Senator Marble and Representative Saine host three Vaccine & Health Choice Summits. No legislators who supported HB19-1312 were present. Information on vaccine efficacy, hesitancy, and rates of injury were presented along with talks on informed consent, ethical concerns, and the history of CDPHE’s governmental overreach.
Governor Polis issues an Executive Order (EO B 2019 006) concerning immunizations. Requires the CDPHE to improve immunization rates across Colorado by increasing access to vaccines, increasing the usage of the department’s standardized medical and nonmedical form, and pushing vaccine education developed by CDPHE.
HB19-1312 School Immunization Requirements introduced. Bill would make all exemptions more difficult (by requiring a visit to the local health department), mandating standardized forms, expanding vaccine schedules, and forcing the use of CIIS. Battle over this bill began in January and lasted until the last day of session. Hundreds of people testified against this bill. Ultimately, the bill passed the House but was never brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
CDPHE rulemaking 6 CCR 1009-2 hearing. Finally, reference to an “official” nonmedical exemption form is removed from the rules. Mention of schools being required to enter data into CIIS is also removed from the rules.
SB17-250 Student Exemption from Immunization Requirements introduced. Bill would have made it clear that an “official” form was not needed for exemptions, specifying a letter was sufficient. Bill died on the Senate floor.
CDPHE continues to require “official” exemption forms but removes the most egregious compelled speech.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) threatens lawsuit siting the following problems with the newly required form:
- requiring an “official” form goes against the law which only requires a signed statement, and
- requires parents to affirm statements which constitute compelled speech and viewpoint discrimination
“Official” Nonmedical exemption form contains viewpoint discrimination and compelled speech. Most egregious statement: “By signing this form,…I understand the following: Failure to follow the advice of a physician, registered nurse, physician’s assistant, or public health official who has recommended vaccines may endanger my child’s/my health or life and others who come into contact with my child/me.”
CDPHE rulemaking 6 CCR 1009-2 hearing. “Official” medical and nonmedical exemption forms are still mandated and CIIS submission by schools required.
HB16-1164 Transfer Immunization Exemption Duties to CDPHE as introduced the bill would have authorized CDPHE to create a standardized department form, require it to be submitted to the CDPHE, and all data submitted put into CIIS. Homeschoolers were exempted from CIIS through the amendment process during the House committee hearing. The bill passed the House but never got brought up in the Senate.
Note: Before the bill is introduced and despite the bill’s demise, the CDPHE website mandates the usage of their online “official” form for all exemptions (medical and nonmedical).
CDPHE rulemaking 6 CCR 1009-2 hearing. Prior to these rules, the certificate of immunization provided by the CDPHE included a line for parents to sign if they wanted to exempt out of vaccinations. With the new rules adopted here, the certificate of immunization was separated and new forms for medical and nonmedical exemptions were created. CDPHE interprets the additional authority granted to determine the “frequency of submission of exemption forms” to give them the authority to require an “official” exemption form created by them. The rules also designate that schools must submit immunization data into CIIS. While the original version of the bill from 2014 would have given them the additional authority to do both those things, the final bill that passed did not.
HB14-1288 Student Immunizations Prior To School Attendance introduced. Final bill added the following to the law:
- CDPHE was authorized to make immunization information including exemption rates available, as well as research and an online education module.
- Schools are to provide immunization and exemption rates available to the public upon request.
- CDPHE was directed to provide assistance to schools with analyzing and interpreting the immunization data.
- CDPHE was to determine the “frequency of submission of exemption forms.”
- CDPHE was to make a joint policy with other state departments on the data collection and sharing of immunization data.
HB07-1347 Immunization Registry Act establishes within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment a digital tracking system for immunization data.
SB88-056 Home Educational Programs for Children gave parents the legal ability to home educate their children in Colorado.
HB78-1089 School Entry Immunization Act establishes immunization requirements for students going to school.