Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) is reminding all parents that back to school vaccinations are crucial to keeping diseases out of our communities.

This year as the measles virus ravages communities across the nation, the Department of Public Health says it’s even more important than ever to have kindergarteners vaccinated before they begin school.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) measles webpage, “Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1 [2019], 1,172 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 30 states. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.”

Image courtesy of community-health

On Tuesday, Chaffee County Public Health joined health departments, providers, schools, parents and partner organizations across the state of Colorado to call on parents and guardians to keep measles out of Colorado by making sure kindergartners are vaccinated before school starts.

“Colorado must stop the decline in vaccination rates among kindergartners, said Director of Chaffee County Public Health Andrea Carlstrom. “When rates are this low, communities are at high risk for a measles outbreak like those occurring in other states.”

According to Chaffee County Public Health, children should have two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) before they enter kindergarten in Colorado.

CCPH provides data detailing the regression of the MMR vaccine in Colorado. Data for the 2018-2019 school year shows:

  • Among kindergartners, MMR vaccination rates dropped from 88.7 percent to 87.4 percent. This is a 1.3 percent decrease from the 2017-2018 school year when Colorado ranked as the worst state in the nation.
  • 47 counties in Colorado have less than the minimum 92 percent MMR coverage needed to protect the community from an outbreak.

Sandra Morgan, a registered nurse and the Immunization Coordinator for CCPH, reiterates the dangers posed by the measles, and the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine.

“The measles vaccine is safe, and it works. Measles is dangerous,” said Morgan. “This is a public safety issue. It’s up to us all to create immunity in our communities and protect babies and others who can’t be vaccinated. Measles is very contagious, and to stop its spread we need 92 percent coverage to create enough herd immunity.”

CCPH points parents to the tools Colorado offers to help parents and guardians make informed choices about vaccinating their children.

  • SpreadTheVaxFacts.com guides people through information and misinformation about vaccines with advice from Colorado doctors who also are parents.
  • 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 lets people know how to request vaccination records for their children.
  • 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.

CCPH staff is reminding parents that while they can choose to exempt their child from school-required vaccines when many unprotected children attend the same school, the risk of measles spread is higher. Thus, unvaccinated children are putting more children at risk.

Families have many options for where and how to get their children caught up with immunizations. CCPH says that it offers vaccinations for those with private insurance or no insurance and families should pay little to no money out-of-pocket for these crucial vaccines.

To schedule an appointment with CCPH, call 719-539-4510 to speak with the front desk. Those who have questions about vaccines or child’s health records are directed to call CCPH and ask to speak with a nurse.