91% of Colorado kindergartners are now vaccinated — an all-time high, state health officials say

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FILE – In this March 27, 2019, file photo, a woman receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y. U.S. Health officials there were no new measles cases reported last week, a sign the nation’s worst epidemic of the disease in 27 years could be in its final stages. The current epidemic emerged about a year ago. It took off this year, with most of the cases reported in Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is reminding parents to get their kids vaccinated.

Unless an exemption is filed, Colorado law requires all students attending schools and licensed child care centers in the state to be vaccinated against certain diseases.

“The more people vaccinated, the less chance for disease to spread,” said Haley Houtchens with Children’s Hospital Colorado.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDPHE had some promising news to share on Friday: the number of kindergartners in Colorado being vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella has increased by 3.7% compared to last year.

According to health officials, 91% of the state’s kindergartners are now vaccinated – which is an all-time high.

Overall, among Colorado K-12 schools, vaccination rates for five required vaccines climbed to 94% between the 2019-2020 school year.

Child care facility coverage rates remained stable during the same time period; all were above 93%.

“However, there do continue to be pockets of under vaccinated communities in our state,” warned Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist.

Coverage rates vary widely by school. Some have dangerously low rates below 15%, while others are completely covered at 100%.

This latest data were collected prior to the pandemic (between October 2019 and January 2020).

Health officials are concerned by some troubling data they noticed during the first couple of months of the pandemic.

Between March 15 and July 19, public health officials have seen a 19% decrease in child vaccinations compared to the same timeframe last year.

“These declines we’ve observed in vaccination rates do put as at risk for another public health crisis, potentially above and beyond the COVID crisis,” Herlihy said.

Public health officials are urging everyone to get vaccinated, especially with flu season right around the corner.

“Keeping up with all of these vaccines is probably more important than it ever has been,” Houtchens said.

For more information on childhood vaccinations in Colorado, visit the CDPHE’s website.

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