School Requirements

Some of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) to keep children healthy are also required by Colorado law for children attending Colorado child care, preschool or school to prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable disease. Colorado law also allows parents to exempt their child from day care- and school-required immunizations on medical, religious, or philosophical grounds.

You should have received a letter from your child’s school or child care center to let you know which vaccines are required in order for your child to attend school or child care. For questions about your child’s required immunizations or to get an immunization certificate, please contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Immunization Branch.

Did you know?
Colorado parents can compare immunization rates when choosing a school or licensed child care facility for their child. A 2014 law requires all schools and licensed child care facilities to disclose their immunization and vaccine exemption rates upon request. That means that anyone – including parents! – can simply call and ask for the facility-wide rates.Beginning in 2016, schools and child care centers are also required to annually report their immunization and exemption rates to CDPHE. These rates will be available to the public in the spring of 2017. Parents consider a variety of factors when deciding where to send their child for school or child care, and now immunization and exemption rates can be part of that decision. 

Why is this important?
School communities with higher vaccine exemption rates are more likely to experience an outbreak of vaccine preventable disease (VPD). A VPD outbreak puts all children – including vaccinated children – at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Transparency around school and licensed child care immunization rates is especially critical for the parents of a child who has a weakened immune system, is too young to be vaccinated, or is medically fragile.

Why should I care about immunization rates if my child is vaccinated?
No vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccines work very well, but there are few people who may not be protected even when they have been vaccinated, and sometimes the protection of some vaccines fade over time.

How do I know if a facility's immunization rate is high enough?
When enough people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, those who are vaccinated provide a shield of protection for those who cannot be vaccinated or have compromised immune systems. This shield helps reduce the risk that a VPD will enter a community and spread to others. Pregnant women, young infants, children and adults with certain high-risk health conditions (i.e. cancer), children with certain allergies, and the elderly all rely on vaccinated members of their communities to shield them from potentially serious illnesses. This phenomenal shield is known as community immunity. For each disease, depending on how contagious it is, a particular percentage of the population must be vaccinated in order to keep it at bay.

Disease Minimum Level for Community Immunity Average Colorado Immunization Level* Your Child Care/School Immunization Rate
Measles 95% 93.6%
Mumps 86% 93.6%
Pertussis 94% 86.1%
Polio 95% 92.7%
Chickenpox (Varicella) 90% 92.5%

*2015 National Immunization Survey

Where can I go for more information?