State officials encourage families to catch up on routine childhood vaccinations

By: - December 16, 2021 4:14 pm

Two-month-old Karina receives drops of children’s Tylenol after getting a vaccination at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics in 2009 in Aurora. Many of the clinic’s patients are on Medicaid. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Like many other states, routine childhood vaccination rates have declined in Colorado since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment encourages families to catch their children up on routine childhood immunizations. 

“With all of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been difficult to keep up with our routines, including regular well-child doctor visits and routine childhood vaccines,” said Heather Roth, the immunization branch chief of the Disease Control and Public Health Response Division, a branch within CDPHE, in a statement Tuesday. “But, it’s never too late to get back on track to protect your kids.”


Between mid-March and mid-April 2020 — during the first weeks of the pandemic — there was a 38% decline in childhood and adolescent vaccines administered per week, compared to the same time in 2019, according to the statement.

From mid-March 2020 through mid-March 2021, there was an 8% decrease in non-COVID-19 pediatric doses administered, compared to the previous year.  

State health officials are working to address this. 

The CDPHE is providing direct community outreach and continued collaboration with local public health agencies to encourage families to catch up on routine childhood vaccines. 

Vaccines for Children is a state-sponsored program to provide free vaccines to children who are uninsured, underinsured, on Medicaid or are Alaskan Native or American Indian, according to the CDPHE website. There are over 500 provider offices, community health centers and local health agencies in Colorado that participate in the Vaccines for Children program. 

Parents can find free vaccine providers on the CDPHE website

Parents can contact their local public health agency or health care provider to ask if it’s time for their child to receive their routine childhood vaccines. 

Most health insurance plans, including the Child Health Plan Plus and Medicaid, are required to cover recommended vaccines without charging the patient, according to the CDPHE statement. 

Routine childhood vaccines are safe and effective

“Staying up-to-date on routine vaccinations is critical especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Roth said. “The last thing we want is an outbreak of any kind, especially when it’s easily preventable.”

All students who attend a college or university in Colorado are required to provide proof of vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella.

Parents can view an immunization chart timeline on the CDPHE website.

Children who are 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine each year, according to the statement. 

Children who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, routine childhood vaccines and a flu vaccine at the same time.

“By staying on top of vaccines, we can prevent serious diseases that could put more strain on hospitals and health care workers that are already under great pressure,” the CDPHE website says.”

Parents can find more information about routine childhood vaccines on the CDPHE website

Prior to entering kindergarten, children in Colorado are required to be vaccinated against:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
  • Inactivated poliovirus
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella (the chicken pox vaccine)
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis

Children entering child care in Colorado at required to be vaccinated against:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenza type b 
  • Inactivated poliovirus
  • Pneumococcal conjugate or polysaccharide
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella (the chicken pox vaccine)

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website

Parents are encouraged to have their children ages 5 and up vaccinated against COVID-19.

Public health experts say COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the recommendation for children ages 5 to 11 to get vaccinated.

Colorado ranks 8th in the country for COVID-19 vaccines for children, according to the statement. 

Over 7 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and children make up about 17% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to data compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. 

Pfizer is currently the only vaccine available to people under 18. 

There are over a thousand COVID-19 vaccine providers across the state. Parents can find a list compiled by the CDPHE of COVID-19 vaccine providers for their children ages 5 to 11. Children ages 12 to 17 can get a COVID-19 vaccine at any provider that offers Pfizer vaccines. 

“While children are less likely to become severely ill from the virus that causes COVID-19, kids can get and spread the virus, they can get sick, and some have been hospitalized,” Sean O’Leary, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital Colorado said, according to the hospital’s website. “Some children have even died, though fortunately deaths have been very rare.”

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and parents do not need to show an ID or insurance for themselves or their children to get the vaccine. Proof of residency is not required. 

COVID-19 has killed more than 797,000 people in the United States, including more than 10,000 in Colorado.

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