August 5, 2021
Pueblo, CO – The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment joins health care providers, schools, parents, and partner organizations across the state to call on parents and guardians to keep vaccine-preventable diseases out of Colorado by making sure children are vaccinated before school starts.
“Staying up-to-date on existing vaccinations is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zak Van Ooyen, supervisor of Clinical Services at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. “The last thing we want is another outbreak, especially when it’s easily preventable. Let’s keep our focus on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the healthcare system isn’t bogged down treating preventable diseases.”
While data for the 2019-2020 school year show a significant increase in kindergarten vaccination rates, Colorado has seen a decrease in vaccinations administered to children and teens since the pandemic began.
Data for the 2019-2020 school year, gathered before the start of the pandemic, show:
Among kindergartners, MMR vaccination rates increased from 87.4% to 91.1%. This is a 3.7% increase from the 2018-2019 school year. Statewide rates among kindergartners rose significantly for four other school-required vaccines as well, which now all have rates over 90%: polio, chickenpox, hepatitis B, and diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)
From mid-March through mid-July, however, data from the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) show an average 19% decline in childhood and adolescent vaccines administered per week compared to the same time last year.
“Doctor’s offices have taken tremendous precautions to help keep patients safe during visits,” Van Ooyen said. “It’s more important than ever that we use the tools we have to protect all Coloradans. In a typical year, vaccines allow us to create immunity in our communities which will protect babies and people with weakened immune systems. This year, they can also help ensure that vaccine-preventable outbreaks don’t worsen the public health crisis we are already experiencing.”
Colorado has tools to help parents and guardians make informed choices about vaccinating their children.
COVax4Kids.org helps people find out if their kids are eligible for low- or no-cost vaccines and helps them find a provider who gives them.
COVaxRecords.org directs people on how to request vaccination records for their children.
COVID19.colorado.gov/well-child provides more information about the safety of well-child checkups during the pandemic.
COVaxRates.org makes it easy for people to look up vaccination and exemption rates for schools and childcare facilities in Colorado so they can make the best decision for their children.
Parents and guardians of school-aged children are encouraged to reach out to their primary care providers to check if their child is up to date. If the child doesn’t have a primary care provider, parents and guardians can call the health department clinic at 719-583-4380 to make an appointment.