It may seem like summer break just began, but it’s time to think about back-to-school vaccinations. Vaccinations promote a safe, healthy school year, and Colorado law requires all students attending schools and licensed childcare facilities to be vaccinated against certain diseases unless an exemption is filed. This year, there is a new optional vaccine on the list: the COVID-19 vaccine. 

COVID-19 vaccination in youth

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is available for school-age individuals (12-17). Though the COVID-19 vaccine is not required, Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) encourages families to get their age-eligible kid(s) vaccinated, especially with the more contagious, potentially more severe Delta variant circulating in our community. 

If you want your child to be fully protected against COVID-19 by the first day of the 2021-2022 school year, you need to act now. If your child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, they should get their second shot 3 weeks (or 21 days) after their first. It takes the body 2 weeks after the second to develop full immunity. Altogether, it takes about 5 weeks for Pfizer vaccine recipients to develop full protection.

Click here to see a list of school-required vaccines. 

Where can my family get vaccinated?

The MCPH Clinic, located at 510 29 ½ Road, administers all required vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines. If you aren’t sure which immunizations your child needs or are behind on vaccinations, MCPH staff can help. To make an appointment to talk about back to school vaccines, call (970) 248-6900. Cost is not a barrier and the MCPH clinic serves all residents regardless of ability to pay. You can also contact your local health care provider for vaccination guidance.

COVID-19 vaccines are free. A Community Vaccination Site for COVID-19 vaccines located at 510 29 ½ Road is available for walk-ins, Wednesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments are still available and can be scheduled here. Children under the age of 18 need a parent or guardian present. 

Mesa County Public Health can help families with all vaccines, talk to a Public Health nurse about vaccines for your child today!

What if I do not want my child to get vaccinated, or my child has a medical exemption?

Immunizations are required for school entry, but they also protect you and our community. Certain populations, such as very young children or those with certain medical reasons, cannot receive immunizations, so it’s important that the people around them are immunized.

Parents with non-medical exemption forms (immunization exemptions for personal beliefs or religious reasons) need to submit an exemption form every year, in accordance with state law. Those with a medical exemption need to submit an exemption form only once. Medical and non-medical exemption forms are available on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website. MCPH can not sign the non-medical exemption form. 

More information:

  • guides people through information and misinformation about vaccines with advice from Colorado doctors who also are parents.
  • helps people find out if their kids are eligible for low- or no-cost vaccines and helps them find a provider who gives them.
  • makes it easy for parents and guardians 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.
  • directs people on how to request vaccination records for their children.

The CDC offers an interactive resource to explore what shots are needed at what age.