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 Stephanie Wasserman, MSPH
Executive Director, Immunize Colorado
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused over 2.6 million cases around the world and is growing each day, has shown us—in the most alarming way—the indisputable value of vaccines. And though we are at least a year away from having an effective COVID-19 vaccine, we do need to remember that we already have many available vaccines that are safe and highly effective against dozens of dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases that once ran rampant across the globe. Most of us have never seen the ravages of polio or measles, but these diseases can come roaring back if we do not stay vigilant about maintaining high vaccination rates.
With an increasing number of people traveling the globe, our world keeps getting smaller and smaller. This is especially true during the holiday season, when an expected seven million Americans will take to the air in the last weeks of the year to celebrate with family and friends. While this makes spending time with far-flung family members much easier, it also increases opportunities for dangerous pathogens to more easily circulate and spread across greater geographic distances.
Colorado consistently outperforms other states when it comes to health measures; Colorado’s immunization rates, sadly, are an exception.