Jefferson County, Colo. — Parents have already fought crowds at the store for scissors, notebooks and pencils. They’ve checked everything they can think of off their back-to-school list – but have they made sure their kids’ health is ready for the school year?
Ensuring children receive the right vaccines at the right times in their life is one of the most important steps parents and caregivers can take toward ensuring their long-term health. Not only does vaccination protect children from many diseases, but it also protects their classmates, relatives and the entire community.
Every year in Colorado, people still get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2017, there were 673 cases of pertussis (whooping cough), 596 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease and 257 cases of varicella (chicken pox), according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). These diseases, and other vaccine-preventable diseases that still occur in our state, like mumps, measles and meningitis, are serious and can be deadly.
The good news, though, is these illnesses are preventable, and back-to-school season is the perfect time for families to make sure they are protected.
“Vaccines are safe, proven-to-be effective and are one of the easiest ways you can keep your family healthy,” said Kelly Conroy, Associate Director of Clinic Services at Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH). “We’ve seen major, serious diseases, like smallpox, eradicated because of vaccines. Hopefully, in our lifetime, we’ll see immunization push more diseases off the map. But for that to happen, we all have to hold up our end of the bargain and continue getting the vaccines that are already recommended.”
Children — and adults — can receive any of their needed immunizations at JCPH’s clinic, located in Lakewood at 645 Parfet Street. The influenza vaccine will be available at the clinic this fall.
From birth to age 6, children are scheduled to get the vaccines that can help protect them from diseases that are serious, and sometimes, deadly. Several additional vaccines are recommended specifically during the preteen and teenage years, like HPV vaccine, which prevents multiple kinds of cancers caused by HPV. There are even some vaccines that are recommended for adults at different times during adulthood, like the shingles vaccine for older adults and the Tdap vaccine for pregnant women. To learn more about vaccine schedules, visit CDPHE’s website.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. According to the CDC, each year, millions of children get sick from seasonal flu. During last year’s flu season in Colorado, 4,675 people were hospitalized, and one child passed away, according to data from CDPHE. However, the flu vaccine can prevent children from getting influenza, or if they do catch it, from getting as sick.
“What’s so important about vaccines is they protect the entire community. The reason immunizations work is that when the majority of the population is protected from a disease, it’s more difficult for that disease to spread and infect those who are vulnerable,” Conroy said. “There are those in our community who can’t get vaccinated because of health problems or age. It’s even more important that we, as a community, vaccinate ourselves to protect them.”
JCPH encourages families to schedule an appointment with their healthcare provider or the JCPH clinic to get their vaccines today. JCPH accepts most major insurances, as well as Medicaid and CHP+. We also accept uninsured patients and never turn anyone away based on their insurance coverage. Immunizations are available to everyone on a sliding fee scale. To make an appointment, call 303-239-7078, or for more information, visit www.jeffco.us/2104/Immunizations.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan through prevention, education and partnerships for all people. To learn more about JCPH, visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.