Back to School: Is Your Child Ready With Routine Vaccines?

July 26, 2023

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You’ve probably noticed the inevitable annual July takeover of school supplies in the aisles of your local grocery and big box stores. Bins of pencils, crayons, and glue indicate that summer’s end is coming. Before you put your child back on the school bus, make sure they’re protected with routine vaccines! Vaccines may not be at the top of your list of back-to-school priorities; it’s a busy time with lots of competing tasks demanding your attention. But as a parent, protecting your child’s health is likely one of your most important concerns.

Public spaces, like schools, are prime environments to spread diseases.

It’s a fact that schools are prime environments for the transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s also true that uptake of routine childhood vaccines is down. Nationally, the CDC estimates that at least 250,000 kindergartners in the 2021-2022 school year were not adequately vaccinated for measles. Coverage for other routine vaccines is down as well. Sadly, data from the same school year show that only 46% of Colorado students attended a school with adequate protection from vaccine-preventable disease. Uptake for all school-required vaccines has declined statewide. It’s important to have high vaccination rates in community environments like schools and other public spaces. Otherwise, we leave the door open for germs and diseases to be transmitted and put kids at risk.

Vaccine-preventable diseases can be serious or even deadly.

It’s also a fact that the diseases we vaccinate for should not be taken lightly. Vaccine-preventable diseases are no joke! Many vaccine-preventable diseases are more serious than the common cold and can have life-altering and permanent outcomes including hospitalization and death. Globally, vaccines save more than 4 million lives each year, according to the CDC. In Colorado, vaccines prevent more than 8,600 hospitalizations among kids each year. Vaccines help keep kids healthy and prevent school absences and time missed learning. They also keep parents from having to call off work to care for their kids. 

It’s not as simple as one person’s or one family’s choice.

Another fact: vaccines affect the health of our communities (like the one at your child’s school); the impact is greater than one person’s or family’s choice. When you choose to have your child and family vaccinated, you’re protecting the health of everyone they contact. Conversely, when you choose not to vaccinate your child or family, you put others at risk. Vaccines are only truly effective when we have enough people in a community to prevent disease spread. We need roughly 95% of people in a school community to be vaccinated (for each school-required vaccine) to make sure students, staff, and faculty are well protected. 

All Colorado kids deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive.

Schools have an obligation to keep kids healthy and safe so they can learn and thrive. School vaccine requirements help ensure that health and safety. In Colorado, children attending school are required by law to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella. Children attending pre-school are also required to be vaccinated against pneumonia and haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). While not required by law, it is also highly recommended that kids get an annual flu vaccine and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. Teens should get HPV and meningitis vaccines, too. Your child, along with all other Colorado kids, deserves to start the school year right and be ready with routine vaccines!

For more information about Colorado school vaccine requirements, visit our website. You can also learn about which vaccines are required for college students, how to access your child’s vaccine record, and more.

Immunize Colorado was formed in 1991 in response to alarmingly low vaccination rates across the state. At the time, only about 50% of Colorado’s children were adequately vaccinated. A group of physicians and other concerned individuals came together to strategize how to protect Coloradans from vaccine-preventable diseases and increase vaccine uptake. Much work remains. You can donate or discover other ways to get involved in supporting our commitment to healthy Colorado communities today!

Immunize Colorado