Jefferson County, CO — Nearly 500 Colorado children were hospitalized with vaccine-preventable diseases in 2015, according to a report released in February by the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition. In 17 of Colorado’s 64 counties, less than half of children are up-to-date on their vaccines. That’s well below the population coverage necessary to prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the report.
Immunizations prevent serious illness and save lives – that’s why Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) recognizes the week of April 24, 2017, as both World Immunization Week and National Infant Immunization Week. The theme of this year’s World Immunization Week is #VaccinesWork. When communities have higher rates of immunization, it means they’re more protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Immunizations are safe and effective, and getting them is so much easier than going through the illnesses they prevent,” said Christine Schmidt, RN, MS and Public Health Nurse Supervisor at JCPH. “Getting immunized is one of the best things you can do for the health of you, your family and your community.”
When you immunize yourself or your children, not only are you protecting your family, but you’re helping keep those in the community who are more vulnerable to illness safe – like those with medical conditions, infants and the elderly.
Every county in the state – including Jefferson County - has children who are susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases because of medical conditions or age. When other children are under-vaccinated, it puts these children with compromised immune systems at risk. In the 30 largest school districts in the state, as much as 17 percent of children opt out of the required vaccines.
“Vaccination is not just a personal choice. Pockets of under immunized children can lead to outbreaks, which affect the whole community and place others at risk, including vulnerable children with asthma, cancer or other high-risk health conditions,” said Dr. James Todd, director of epidemiology at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Vaccinated children are protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once affected thousands of children in the U.S. have been eliminated or greatly reduced. For example, the often-fatal polio was once the most-feared disease in America, but thanks to vaccination, it’s been all but eradicated in the U.S.
But under-immunization has led to a resurgence in the number of cases of measles and mumps, two vaccine-preventable diseases, in Colorado. As of April 3, 2017, the most recent data available, the state had seen 61 cases of mumps this year. That’s more than three times as many as last year and 10 times as many as the year before.
JCPH encourages everyone to make sure they and their children are up-to-date on the vaccinations they need and offers resources to help:
Public Engagement Specialist