Vaccinations should be updated for start of school

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With back to school preparations in full force, there's one requirement that officials at the Moffat County School District hope parents don't overlook.

According to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, only 63 percent of children in the state are receiving the required immunizations at the right ages before entering school.

"We can and must do better in order to prevent childhood diseases from returning to Colorado," said Colorado's chief medical officer, Dr. Ned Calonge.

And parents enrolling their children into school from out-of-state or those students first entering school may have to plan for immunizations, said Susan Bowler, with the Visiting Nurse Association.

"We've been going into the schools before but we can't do that this year," she said.

Previously, nurses from the VNA offered immunization at Moffat County schools a few times a year. Bowler said parents would have to make other arrangements to ensure their children receive vaccinations this year.

Children are required to have all of their immunizations for their age group before they can return to school or are enrolled in school for the first time.

Some immunizations also are required for enrollment at childcare facilities.

If a school determines that a child's immunization records are incomplete, parents have only 14 days after receiving notification from the school to comply with a written plan for receiving the remaining immunizations.

After that deadline, state schools may deny attendance to students who do not present an immunization record at the beginning of school, Calonge said.

Children may be exempt from immunization requirements because of medical, religious or personal reasons.

Immunization costs through the VNA are charged on a sliding scale basis, Bowler said.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment immunization requirements include:

  • Chickenpox -- One immunization is required for children 18 months to four years of age for entrance into preschool and for children entering kindergarten, first, second and third grades. A history from parent or guardian that the child already has had the disease may be substituted for the immunization.
  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis -- A total of five vaccines are required for students entering a Colorado school for the first time, although that number may vary.
  • Hepatitis B -- A total of three doses is required for preschool and all grades.
  • Haemophilus Influenzae Type B -- This is a preschool requirement for children five years old or younger but is not required for older children.
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella -- Two doses are required for kindergarten and the first, second, third and seventh through 12th grades. One dose is required for grades four through six.
  • Polio -- Three doses are required for children entering preschool. Grade school, middle school and high school students entering a Colorado school for the first time are required to have four doses.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or by email at ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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