In 2019, healthcare charges to treat vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) like measles, flu and whooping cough in Colorado adults and children reached $1.1 billion. That was before COVID-19 emerged. The same year, vaccine-preventable diseases were the culprit in over 14,000 hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits in children, and over 20,000 in adults. That’s according to a new independent report jointly released by Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) and Immunize Colorado.
The Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Report , prepared by researchers in the Department of Epidemiology at Children’s Colorado, examines CDC National Immunization Survey data and 2019 Colorado Hospital Association inpatient and emergency department data to determine the health and economic burdens resulting from VPDs in Colorado. According to the report, the economic toll of VPDs is highest for publicly insured and uninsured children and adults, with hospitalizations and ED visit charges for these groups totaling over $900 million in 2019.
The report also finds that only 64% of Colorado’s children born in 2017 were fully vaccinated by age two, ranking our state 43rd in the nation. By age 35 months, the rate bumps up slightly to 78%—still well below national goals. This likely explains why, for children, ED visit and hospitalization rates for VPDs (excluding influenza) are highest during the first three years of life when on-time vaccination rates are lowest. As the report notes, “under-vaccination early in life leaves children vulnerable to serious diseases.”