Chaffee County Public Health is asking local parents and guardians to help keep measles out of Colorado by making sure kindergartners are vaccinated before school starts.
“Colorado must stop the decline in vaccination rates among kindergartners,” Andrea Carlstrom, county public health director, said in a press release. “When rates are this low, communities are at high risk for a measles outbreak like those occurring in other states.”
Children should have two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) before they enter kindergarten in Colorado.
Data for the 2018-2019 school year showed that among kindergartners, MMR vaccination rates dropped from 88.7 percent to 87.4 percent. That is a 1.3 percent decrease from the previous school year, when Colorado ranked as the worst state in the nation.
Forty-seven counties in Colorado have less than the minimum 92 percent MMR coverage needed to protect the community from an outbreak, Carlstrom said.
“The measles vaccine is safe, and it works. Measles is dangerous,” registered nurse Sandra Morgan, Chaffee County Public Health immunization coordinator, said.
“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.”
Colorado has tools 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 child care facilities in Colorado so they can make the best decision for their children.
Parents can choose to exempt their child from school-required vaccines, but when many unprotected children attend the same school, the risk of measles spread is higher, public health officials said.
Families have many options for where and how to get their children caught up with immunizations. Chaffee County Public Health offers vaccinations for those with private insurance or no insurance, and families should pay little to no money out-of-pocket for the vaccines.
To schedule an appointment with Chaffee County Public Health, call 719-539-4510 to speak with the front desk. For questions about vaccines or their child’s record, parents can call the office and ask to speak with a nurse.