State immunization rate reaches important milestone 

San Juan Basin Public Health

Statistics for Archuleta and La Plata County tell a different story 

As Colorado reaches an important immunization milestone, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) urges parents not to delay important doctor visits for infants, children, and adolescents. 

In July the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced it exceeded a 2019-20 goal to have at least 90 percent of Colorado’s kindergartners vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). This represents an improvement over 2018-19 when Colorado ranked last among all U.S. states with a kindergarten MMR vaccination rate of just 87.4 percent. 

Childhood vaccinations help build “community immunity” (also known as “herd immunity”) to protect an entire population. Community immunity also protects people who can’t be vaccinated due to age, a compromised immune system, or underlying illness. In order to reach community immunity, MMR vaccine rates need to be between 93 and 95 percent. 

In La Plata and Archuleta counties, however, only 88 percent of kindergartners received MMR vaccination during 2019-20. SJBPH warns that the region’s already low childhood vaccination rates could drop even further as parents put off doctor visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Routine well-child visits are being postponed and some parents are avoiding going to the doctor for fear of contracting the coronavirus, said Liane Jollon, SJBPH Executive Director. 

 “However, vaccines protect against life-threatening diseases and protecting your child’s immune system are especially important this school year. Doctors’ offices practice thorough infection control and the risk of contracting the virus while at a vaccination appointment is very low. We encourage all families to continue their well-child appointments and receive the recommended vaccinations, she said. 

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk of contracting and spreading diseases to others, including classmates and family members. Local healthcare providers have implemented appropriate office, cleaning, and PPE procedures to make it safe for babies and children to get vaccines. Parents with concerns about in-person doctor visits should call their local healthcare provider to get details on safety precautions and to answer any questions they have. 

Families who lack insurance or can’t afford care should contact SJBPH’s Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The program is federally funded to provide vaccinations to children regardless of ability to pay. Children who are 0-18 years of age qualify if they: 

  • areinsured through Medicaid or are Medicaid eligible, 
  • areNative American/Native Alaskan, 
  • haveno health insurance, 
  • areunder-insured/ meaning that their health insurance does not cover the vaccine, or 
  • havereached their vaccine cap. 

The VFC program can be reached at 970.335.2015. 

Parents and guardians can find out more about the required school immunizations and recommended schedule at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/. 

Colorado also has the following tools to help parents and guardians make informed choices about vaccinating their children: 

  • 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 children are eligible for low- or no-cost vaccines and helps them find a provider who gives them.
  • COVaxRecords.org lets people know how to request vaccination records for their children.

 For more information about SJBPH’s Immunization Clinic and hours, please visit https://sjbpublichealth.org/immunizations/ 

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community. 

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