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Start the School Year Off Right With Vaccines!

Summer has flown by and it is nearly time for kids to say goodbye to summer break and hello to the new school year! As you soak up the last few moments of summer with your kids and work to complete those last-minute back-to-school checklist items—like buying school supplies, creating a family calendar, or turning in registration forms—don’t forget to check immunization off your list!

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Ensuring your child receives school-required and other recommended vaccines will help to bolster their immune system, keep them (and the community) healthy, and set them up for success as they enter the new school year.

With so much to do before the summer ends, this time of year can feel chaotic. Luckily, there are many resources that make it easy to check vaccines off your list and create a smooth transition back to school for your family.

Why are vaccines important for kids in school and child care?

Vaccines are your child’s best defense against harmful, potentially deadly diseases. Diseases, like measles, can spread very easily in school settings. To protect other students and school staff, especially those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, every child who can be vaccinated should be. This is called community immunity, and when enough people are vaccinated, it provides a shield against contagious disease.

Out of all U.S. states, Colorado currently has the lowest kindergarten immunization rate for the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine at 87.4 percent. This rate is much lower than the 95 percent level necessary for community protection. This leaves our communities vulnerable to an outbreak. With well over 1,000 measles cases reported across 30 states in 2019, it’s not unlikely that an outbreak could make its way to Colorado.

To learn more about vaccines and how they work to protect communities from vaccine-preventable disease, visit SpreadTheVaxFacts.com.

Which vaccines are needed for school entry?

To see which vaccines your child might need depending on their age, head to the state health department’s webpage on school-required vaccines. To learn more about other recommended vaccines like the flu shot and the HPV vaccine, visit the CDC’s vaccine website for parents. In Colorado, you can visit COVaxRecords.org to request your child’s vaccination records and see which vaccines your child might be missing. You should also consult your child’s healthcare provider to determine which vaccines your child needs.

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Where can I get vaccines for my child? 

If your child has a family physician they see regularly, this physician can provide vaccines for your child, as well as other important health and developmental screenings and tests. In addition, local public health departments often offer weekend vaccination clinics! In the Denver-Metro area, the Shots for Tots and Teens program offers low-cost vaccines for both insured and underinsured children and adults at their Saturday immunization clinics, hosted at Aurora Fire Station #2 in Aurora. You can visit COVax4Kids.org to determine if your child is eligible for low- or no-cost vaccines and to locate providers who give them.

The state health department also provides a full list of locations that offer vaccines.

How can I see the immunization rates at my child’s school?

Parents and the public can view vaccination and exemption data for their child’s school or child care facility at COVaxRates.org to see how protected it is from outbreaks of preventable disease.

You can also view your school district’s immunization and exemption coverage and an overview of statewide Colorado vaccine and vaccine-preventable disease information using fact sheets and dashboards created by the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, available at COSchoolIZ.org.

Other helpful immunization resources for parents and families:

  • ImmunizeForGood.com and VaccunalosPorSuBien.com – CCIC’s English- and Spanish-language websites for parents that include information on vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, outline the importance of vaccination, and provide answers to parents’ commonly asked questions
  • CDC’s Childhood Vaccine Assessment Tool – Allows parents to answer quick questions to learn which vaccines their child may need
  • CDC’s Immunization Tracker – Helps parents record their child’s immunizations, developmental milestones, and growth at each well-child visit
  • CDC’s How Vaccines Work video series – Series of animated videos that help explain how germs can make babies sick, how vaccines can help babies fight germs and infection, and what to expect when your child is vaccinated

On behalf of the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, we wish your family a healthy, happy 2019-2020 school year!

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