By Audra Streetman

GLENDALE, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado health officials are working to increase vaccination rates in the state. By the end of June, 91% of Colorado kindergartners were vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reached their goal this year for more than 90% of kindergartners to receive the MMR vaccine. Officials said 2,289 more children were vaccinated this year compared to last school year, a 3.7% increase.

MMR Vaccine (credit: CNN)

“Way to go, Colorado! This accomplishment represents a significant collaboration between state and local public health agencies, parents, schools, and community partners,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE. “Highlighting this achievement lets us also emphasize the importance of staying up-to-date on routine childhood vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Colorado Kindergartners are required to receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, unless they obtain a medical or religious exemption. Officials said the increase in MMR vaccinations this year likely resulted in an increased rate for other vaccines.

Data for the 2019-2020 school year shows statewide vaccination rates among kindergartners rose significantly for polio, chickenpox, hepatitis B and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTap). Officials said their focus is to ensure the COVID-19 pandemic does not reverse the state’s progress.

(credit: CBS)

Officials report a 19% decline in weekly vaccinations among children and teens from mid-March through mid-July compared to the same time last year.

“Parents and guardians may have been understandably concerned about taking their children for vaccinations during the pandemic,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer, CDPHE. “But we want to assure them it’s safe to resume these visits, and it’s critical to keep kids’ vaccinations up to date. Not doing so puts our state at risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, unnecessarily complicating Colorado’s COVID-19 response.”

Families can compare vaccination and exemption rates for Colorado schools and child care facilities at covaxrates.org. Data for the 2019-2020 school year was submitted before the pandemic began.

CDPHE created the website SpreadTheVaxFacts.com to share information about vaccines from Colorado doctors who are also parents. Parents can visit COVax4Kids.org to learn if their kids are eligible for low-or no-cost vaccines. To request vaccination records for students, visit COVaxRecords.org.

Audra Streetman

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