Vaccinations key to a healthy school year

We’re in the waning days of summer, and gearing up for another school year. We want the upcoming school year to be a healthy one. The best way to ensure that is to check your children’s vaccination records and make sure their vaccines are up-to-date.  Colorado law requires all students attending schools and licensed child cares to be vaccinated against certain diseases unless an exemption is filed.

Mesa County Public Health is hosting an immunization clinic where you can walk in and get required vaccines, with no appointment needed. The dates for that clinic are:

  • August 7, 2019, from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • August 10, 2019, from  9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

We serve all residents, regardless of ability to pay.

If you want information on any vaccine, Mesa County Public Health staff are available to answer your questions.

Vaccination rates are too low among kindergartners. 

  • Statewide data from the 2018-2019 school year shows that among kindergartners, rates for four of the five school-required vaccines decreased:
    • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine dropped from 88.7% in 2017-2018 to 87.4%.  This kindergarten coverage rate reflects a 1.3% decrease from the 2017-2018 school year, in which Colorado ranked as the worst state in the nation.
    • Hepatitis B dropped from 92% in 2017-2018 to 90.8%.
    • Polio dropped from 88.6% in 2017-2018 to 87.2%.
    • Chickenpox dropped from 87.7% in 2017-2018 to 86.5%.
  • In Mesa County, the opportunity exists to improve immunization coverage levels among school-aged children. For the 2018-2019 school year, 91.3% of elementary students, 87.3% of middle school students, and 89% of high school students are up-to-date on immunizations.
  • The highest percentage of vaccine exemptions (having at least one exemption to a vaccine) is seen at alternative schools and middle schools in Mesa County.

Measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases are serious.

  • Measles is not a mild rash illness. It can be serious in all age groups but complications are most common in children under 5 years and adults over 20 years old.
  • HPV, or the human papillomavirus, can cause cervical cancer. The CDC recommends two doses of HPV vaccine for all boys and girls between the ages of 11-12.
  • Meningococcal disease is a rare but life-threatening disease with rapid onset and is most common in shared living environments such as dorms. 

Vaccines aren’t just for kids, it’s important we’re all protected. Here are some recommendations by age group:

  • Children entering school (includes infant vaccines)
    • Hepatitis B.
    • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTap).
    • Inactivated poliovirus (IPV).
    • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR).
    • Varicella (chickenpox). 
  • Older children
    • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap).  Students are required to have Tdap prior to entry into 6th grade.
    • 2-shot series of HPV vaccine.  The CDC recommends this for all 11-12-year-olds.
      • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY). A booster shot is recommended at age 16.
  • Adults
      • Seasonal influenza (recommended annually after 6-months of age).
      • Shingles for healthy adults 50 years and older.
      • Pregnant women should get a Tdap vaccine.
      • Hepatitis A vaccine (if you didn’t receive the series as a child).

It’s easy to get the information you need.

  • 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.
  • COVaxRates.org makes it easy for parents and guardians look up vaccination and exemption rates for schools and child care facilities in Colorado so they can make the best decision for their children.
  • COVaxRecords.org 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.

 

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