Just 32 of 182 school districts in Colorado can boast student vaccination coverage rates of 95% or higher in all of their schools for all school-required vaccines (80% for Tdap). That’s the goal set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030. Across the state, only 46% of students attend a school that achieved this level of coverage.
These 32 districts made Immunize Colorado’s 2021/22 Immunity Community Honor Roll – released this week – which honors Colorado schools and school districts that achieve exceptional vaccine coverage. With 182 school districts across the state, this means just 18% of districts received this designation for the 2021/22 school year.
In addition to the Honor Roll, Immunize Colorado this week released dashboards and supplemental customized fact sheets for each Colorado school district, legislative district, and county that summarize school- and child care-level vaccination data from the 2021/22 school year made publicly available by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). These resources help child care and school staff, parents, policymakers, and the public understand the level of protection against preventable diseases in their community. The school-specific dashboards allow users to compare vaccination and exemption coverage between school districts and between schools, and to see how rates have changed over the years.
The dashboards and fact sheets demonstrate that across Colorado, vaccination coverage varies widely, as do exemption rates. (Parents can opt out of vaccinating their child by submitting a medical or nonmedical exemption to their child’s school or child care.) In fact, county-level exemption rates range from 0% to 37.5% across the state; nearly a third of the state’s counties have vaccine exemption rates equal to or higher than 5%. Additionally, over 70,000 Colorado K-12 students entered school in 2021 without protection from one or more vaccines.
Over the years, these data tools have helped to increase education, communication, and coordination of efforts between local public health, school nurses and administrators, providers, families, and community members, and helped instigate collaboration on efforts to improve vaccination rates.
Colorado law requires all students attending Colorado schools and licensed child care centers to be vaccinated against certain diseases like pertussis, measles, and chicken pox. School communities with higher vaccination rates (and lower exemption rates) provide a safe learning and working environment for students and staff and are less likely to experience an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease. Having accurate data on vaccination in a school setting is also critical to emergency response efforts.
About Immunize Colorado
Immunize Colorado is a statewide, independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Its mission is to protect Colorado families, schools, and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunize Colorado does not accept funding from vaccine manufacturers or distributors. To learn more, visit www.immunizecolorado.org and connect with Immunize Colorado on Facebook and Twitter. Media inquiries can be directed to Emily Clancy at Emily.Clancy@childrenscolorado.org.