On September 15, Immunize Colorado hosted two of Colorado’s top immunization experts for a town-hall style panel discussion of the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination. Panelists Dr. Sean O’Leary, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and Heather Roth, Immunization Branch Chief at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), answered audience questions about COVID-19 variants, COVID-19 vaccines (including potential booster doses and availability for young children), and the status of routine vaccination in Colorado.
By Kate Matlin, Public Health Associate
Since public health stay-at-home orders were announced in Colorado due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, fewer parents have been taking their children to routine well-child visits. As a result, Colorado’s already-low vaccination rates dropped even further in early 2020. (For reference, during the 2018-19 school year, Colorado already had the lowest-in-the-nation rate for kindergarten MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination at 87.4%.) Compared to the number of doses delivered from January to March 15, 2020, doses delivered after March 15 to May were 31% lower for children 0-2 years, 78% lower for 3-9 years, and 82% lower for 10-17 years of age. Although vaccination rates have improved since this initial drop, they have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. And as disease prevention measures gradually ease up over the next year and kids head back to in-person learning, low vaccination rates could leave children vulnerable to diseases like measles.
By Ellie Dullea
Healthcare workers play an essential role as trusted vaccine advocates in the community. In a 2017 survey of 400+ Colorado parents, medical doctors were found to be the most influential factor in parents’ plan for their children’s immunizations. Similarly, immunization providers will play a vital role in increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates by easing patient concerns about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and offering strong recommendations for vaccination.
By Clara Holder
The CO-mmunity Corps blog series highlights the incredible work that members of the CO-mmunity Corps (Immunize Colorado’s AmeriCorps VISTA program) are doing across Colorado to build capacity for immunization programs.
My name is Clara, and I am one of the AmeriCorps VISTAs working on immunization education and outreach with Immunize Colorado. I work in Salida, Colorado at Chaffee County Public Health and spend my time engaging community partners and working on the COVID-19 response as well. I feel lucky to have been placed at a small LPHA (local public health agency) for all of the incredible experience that I’m getting, and am excited to share the research I’ve conducted over the past few months and the planned interventions I’ll be working on for the rest of my service year.