State of the State's Immunizations Report: Colorado Not Meeting National Vaccination Coverage Targets

Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sep 12 2017

Childhood vaccination rates vary greatly across Colorado communities, with underimmunization resulting in high economic and health costs


For Immediate Release
Sept. 12, 2017

AURORA, Colo.—A report released today by the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC) finds that immunization coverage rates vary widely across Colorado counties, schools and child care centers. In many cases, school district rates fall well below national targets. The report, State of the State’s Immunizations: A Report on Colorado’s Vaccine Protection for Its Communities, also finds that more than 57,000 students attending K-12 schools and over 8,000 children enrolled in licensed child care facilities across the state are not up to date on required immunizations.

The first of its kind in over 15 years, the comprehensive report draws on new school and child care data made available by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as well as national, county- and hospital-level data to provide an analysis of the state of immunization coverage in Colorado. The report examines vaccination rates among children, the costs of vaccine-preventable diseases to Colorado communities, challenges to boosting immunization uptake, the role of immunization systems and technology in ensuring adequate immunization rates, and the impact of recent policy changes.

The State of the State’s Immunizations reveals that Colorado consistently has one of the highest non-medical exemption rates in the nation with over 95 percent of exemptions at K-12 schools submitted for non-medical reasons. Charter and Waldorf schools make up nearly one-third of the 20 schools with the highest exemption rates in the state. In response, the report calls for policymakers to address the ease of obtaining non-medical exemptions to vaccines required for school or child care entry.

It also asserts the need for continued state funding to operate and optimize the state’s vaccine and disease surveillance infrastructure. Additionally, the report recommends lawmakers support requirements for insurance plans to cover the cost of vaccinations, as well as payment reform models that incentivize patients and doctors for preventive care services.

“We’ve done a great job of improving the data that give us a better picture of the gains and gaps in vaccinating Colorado children, but much needs to be done to increase understanding and use of this information so we can bring down the barriers to achieve full protection of our children,” said Dr. Edwin Asturias, report author, president of the CCIC Board of Directors, and director of Latin America Projects at the Center for Global Health at the Colorado School of Public Health. 

“The benefits of immunization are immense – we have the power and responsibility to protect Colorado children and communities from potentially devastating diseases.”

The State of the State’s Immunizations report is a product of the Colorado Immunization Data Advisory Council (IDAC), a collaboration of Colorado healthcare and public health experts. The IDAC’s purpose is to share and maximize Colorado immunization data-related expertise and resources to achieve its goal that Colorado immunization coverage data be publicly available at the county, school and child care levels to better inform immunization policy, research, programs and parental decision making. The IDAC provides independent, authoritative, evidence-based public health advice to CCIC on immunization data-related issues that impact Colorado immunization programs and policy. 

The report is available at www.childrensimmunization.org.

About the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition:

The Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC) is a statewide, independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Its mission is to strategically mobilize diverse partners and families to advance children’s health through immunizations. CCIC does not accept funding from vaccine manufacturers or distributors. To learn more, visit www.childrensimmunization.org and connect with CCIC on Facebook and Twitter.

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Media contact: Meredith Kersten, communications director
Office: 720.777.1798 Mobile: 608.295.3475
meredith.kersten@childrenscolorado.org