Routt, Moffat County public health officials urge measles immunizations
Routt County and Moffat County Public Health Departments this week announced the need for providers, schools, parents and partner organizations across the state for parents and guardians to keep measles out of Colorado by making sure kindergartners are vaccinated before school starts.
“Colorado must take an active role in mitigating the decline in vaccination rates among kindergartners” said Kari Ladrow, public health director for Moffat and Routt counties, in a news release. “When rates are this low statewide, communities are at a high risk for a measles outbreak similar to those occurring in other states.”
The release stated the United States has had more than 1,000 reported cases of measles in 2019, and this is the largest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
“People who get measles while traveling to and from countries where the disease is common or states where outbreaks are occurring can spread this highly contagious disease rapidly in communities with low vaccination rates,” the release said.
While some states have experienced measles outbreaks, Colorado has not. Public health officials have seen one case in 2019, zero in 2018 and 2017, two in 2016, and one in 2015.
However, Colorado is not immune.
“Overall state vaccination rates plus clusters of under-vaccination in Colorado schools and communities leave our students vulnerable to a widespread outbreak,” the release said.
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 show:
- Among kindergartners, MMR vaccination rates dropped from 88.7% to 87.4%, a 1.3% decrease from the 2017-2018 school year, when Colorado ranked as the worst state for immunization rates in the nation.
- 47 counties in Colorado have less than the minimum 92% MMR coverage needed to protect the community.
“The measles vaccine is safe, and it is effective. Measles is dangerous and can be fatal,” Ladrow said. “This is a public safety issue and it is up to all of us to create immunity in our communities and protect babies and other vulnerable populations who cannot be vaccinated.”
Several websites offer details for parents and guardians to 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.
Parents can choose to exempt their child from school-required vaccines, but when too many unprotected children attend the same school, the risk of measles spread is higher. 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.
Moffat and Routt County Public Health Departments subcontract with Northwest Colorado Health to provide public health immunizations.
Several back-to-school immunization clinics have been arranged.
• 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at Steamboat Springs Middle School “Back-to-School Event” specifically for middle school students. TdaP, Meningococcal, and HPV vaccines will be available during this clinic.
• 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10 to Friday, Sept. 13 at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Community Health Fair (flu shots only)
• 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 13 at Connections 4 Kids Community Health Fair in Craig
For more information on immunization services, visit northwestcoloradohealth.org/what_we_do/prevention-services/immunizations/about.html or call 970-879-1632 in Steamboat Springs or 970-824-8233 in Craig.