Potential Impact of Measles Outbreaks on Colorado Schools
An increase in the number of measles cases in the U.S. over the past few years has highlighted the importance of preparing for the impact of a potential measles outbreak in the school setting.
Measles is a highly contagious disease and it is important to know which students need to be excluded from school to protect them from exposure to the virus, and to prevent further transmission to other children. Understanding the magnitude of the number of students at risk allows schools to better prepare for an outbreak.
In response to requests from local public health and school districts for this information, Immunize Colorado created a tool to demonstrate the potential impact across Colorado counties and school districts. These dashboards can be used to look up the percent and number of students that would be potentially excluded from attending school at the county and school-district level. Statewide, nearly 45,000 Colorado students would potentially be excluded from school for up to 21 days in the case of a measles outbreak.
During the 2019-20 school year, 91% of Colorado kindergarteners were vaccinated for MMR, an increase of 3.7% from the previous year. With these gains in MMR vaccination rates in Colorado, we have also seen pediatric immunization rates drop significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic since the start of 2020. It is critical to maintain high vaccination coverage during the pandemic to keep students safe and prevent additional outbreaks of disease that could impact students' learning and further overwhelm our healthcare system. The full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on routine vaccination rates will not be seen until the 2020-21 school immunization data is released.