The Trading Post in Paonia is the kind of place you might expect to meet people who don’t vaccinate their kids. There’s bulk quinoa on the shelves, local potatoes in baskets and all sorts of sugar and wheat free goodies for sale near the cash register. The whole place has a decidedly crunchy, alternative vibe, and that extends to medicine. The last time I went there, the first three people I talked to told me they didn’t vaccinate their children.
Colorado has one of the country's highest rates of un or undervaccinated school children. And some school districts in Western Colorado have rates five times higher than the state average. The majority of those kids have personal belief exemptions, which allow parents to easily opt out of some or all vaccines.
A bill in the statehouse would try to change that by requiring parents to talk to a doctor or watch an online class before signing a personal belief exemption. But a senate committee cut those requirements out of the bill yesterday.
Coal miners and their families filled the gym at the Paonia branch of the Delta Montrose Technical College on Saturday. Many of them were among the 300 people laid off by Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine in Somerset last month. They were there to hear state Senator Gail Schwartz and others talk about how the state could help them deal with the job losses. Some ideas included rural economic development grants and financial aid for miners to go back to school. But many people left the meeting feeling just as lost as before.