Pueblo Public Health urging measles vaccinations for kindergartners

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The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment is encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against measles before the upcoming school year.

PUEBLO — The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment is asking parents to take action against the spread of measles by vaccinating their kindergartners before the start of the school year.

“This is a public safety issue,” said Zak Van Ooyen, Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment Program Manager. “It’s up to us all to create immunity in our communities and protect babies and others who can’t be vaccinated.”

Colorado statewide data for the 2018-2019 school year shows:

  • Among kindergartners, MMR vaccination rates dropped from 88.7% to 87.4%. This is a 1.3% decrease from the 2017-2018 school year, when Colorado ranked as the worst state in the nation.
  • 47 counties in Colorado have less than the minimum 92% MMR coverage needed to protect the community.
  • Pueblo vaccinations rate in the 90th percentile, but for full community protection, vaccinating is still necessary.

“When overall state rates are this low, communities are at high risk for a measles outbreak like those occurring in other states,” Van Ooyen said.

Children should have two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) before they enter kindergarten in Colorado.

Parents can choose to exempt their child from school-required vaccines, but when many unprotected children attend the same school, the risk of measles spread is higher. COVaxRates.org allows people to look up vaccination and exemption rates for schools and child care facilities in Colorado so they can make the best decision for their children.

“The measles vaccine is safe, and it works. Measles is dangerous,” Van Ooyen said.

To make sure your child is up to date with their vaccinations, including the measles vaccine, call your doctor or the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment’s clinic 719-583-4380.

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