Reminder: Submit Comments in Support of Immunization Rules

This week, the Colorado Children’s Campaign submitted comments to the Colorado Board of Health in support of proposed rules that would increase the frequency for submitting nonmedical immunization exemption forms.

Parents and advocates interested in increasing the rate of childhood vaccination in Colorado are also encouraged to submit their comments to the Board of Health, which will hold a public rulemaking hearing on proposed changes to Colorado’s immunization rules on April 15, 2015. The hearing will take place at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at 10 a.m.

Those interested may participate in the hearing by submitting written testimony or comments in advance, or by providing oral testimony at the hearing. Written testimony is due by 5 p.m. April 9 and can be emailed to: cdphe.bohrequests@state.co.us.

The proposed amendments to the rules include changes regarding the frequency of submitting immunization exemption forms. The department is proposing that parents and guardians who exempt children from immunizations submit waiver forms as frequently as parents who vaccinate kids must turn in those records. Current rules require parents to submit immunization exemptions for personal belief, religious or medical reasons only once unless a child changes schools or child care.

School communities with higher vaccine exemption rates are more likely to experience an outbreak of vaccine preventable disease. Outbreaks put all children—including vaccinated children—at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Transparency around school and licensed child care immunization rates is especially critical for the parents of a child who is immunocompromised, too young to be vaccinated, or medically fragile. View the notice of rulemaking hearing here for more information.

 

Submit Comments in Support of Immunization Rules

Parents and advocates interested in increasing the rate of childhood vaccination in Colorado are encouraged to submit comments to the Colorado Board of Health, which will hold a public rulemaking hearing on proposed changes to Colorado’s immunization rules on April 15, 2015. The hearing will take place at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at 10 a.m.

Those interested may participate in the hearing by submitting written testimony or comments in advance, or by providing oral testimony at the hearing. Written testimony is due by 5 p.m. April 9 and can be emailed to: cdphe.bohrequests@state.co.us.

The proposed amendments to the rules include changes regarding the frequency of submitting immunization exemption forms. The department is proposing that parents and guardians who exempt children from immunizations submit waiver forms as frequently as parents who vaccinate kids must turn in those records. Current rules require parents to submit immunization exemptions for personal belief, religious or medical reasons only once unless a child changes schools or child care.

A recent editorial by the Denver Post Editorial Board supports the proposed rule changes as a step in the right direction on immunization policy in Colorado.

School communities with higher vaccine exemption rates are more likely to experience an outbreak of vaccine preventable disease. Outbreaks put all children—including vaccinated children—at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Transparency around school and licensed child care immunization rates is especially critical for the parents of a child who is immunocompromised, too young to be vaccinated, or medically fragile. View the notice of rulemaking hearing here for more information.

 

Fast Fact – Feb. 27, 2015

In 2013, only 72 percent of all 2-year-olds in Colorado were fully immunized, giving us the 6th-lowest immunization rate in the nation. Immunizations help protect children from a number of preventable diseases, including polio, mumps, measles and whooping cough. To find out how Colorado’s 2-year-old immunization rate compares to states around the country, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

 

Reminder: Join Event to Voice Support of Immunizations on Jan 29

Parents are invited to a Jan. 29 public forum to comment on how often child immunization exemption forms should be submitted to schools and child care centers. The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is holding the parent forum from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its offices, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South in Denver.

The department is proposing that parents and guardians who exempt children from immunizations submit waiver forms as frequently as parents who vaccinate their kids. All participants who would like to attend the Parent Forum must register. If you would like to register or submit written comments to CDPHE about the proposal, please click here.

Click here for more information about the forum, CDPHE’s proposal and HB 14-1288.

 

Speak Up In Support of Immunizations on Jan 29

Parents are invited to a Jan. 29 public forum  to comment on how often child immunization exemption forms should be submitted to schools and child care centers. The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is holding the parent forum from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its offices, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South in Denver. The department is proposing that parents and guardians who exempt children from immunizations submit waiver forms as frequently as parents who vaccinate kids must turn in those records.

House Bill 1288, passed in 2014 with active support from the Children’s Campaign, directs the Colorado Board of Health to develop rules for how often immunization exemption forms must be submitted by parents. Current rules require parents to submit immunization exemptions for personal belief, religious or medical reasons only once unless a child changes schools or child care.

School communities with higher vaccine exemption rates are more likely to experience an outbreak of vaccine preventable disease. Outbreaks put all children – including vaccinated children – at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Transparency around school and licensed child care immunization rates is especially critical for the parents of a child who is immunocompromised, too young to be vaccinated, or medically fragile.

The department’s proposal to the Board of Health would change the frequency of personal belief and religious exemption forms beginning in 2016. It would require exemption forms to be submitted to licensed child care facilities following the recommended immunization schedule developed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and to schools (kindergarten through college) during annual enrollment or registration.

All participants who would like to attend the Parent Forum must register. If you would like to register or submit written comments to CDPHE about the proposal, please click here.

 

Colorado Lagging Behind on Important Childhood Immunizations

Immunizations are one of the most cost-effective and reliable public health tools to ensure children are healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), among U.S. children born between 1994 and 2013, vaccination will prevent approximately 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths. New data released by the CDC last week, however, show that many Colorado kids aren’t getting the immunizations they need to protect them against serious illnesses.

According to the survey, only 69 percent of all 2-year-olds in Colorado were fully immunized in 2013, compared to 70 percent of children nationally. Additionally, Colorado had the lowest immunization rate in the country (tied with West Virginia and Ohio) for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine—or MMR. Colorado’s vaccination rate for pertussis, or whooping cough, was also below the national average. Children who are unvaccinated against whooping cough are eight times more likely to contract the disease, which can be deadly.

The survey also found that nationally, children of color and children in poverty were less likely to be fully vaccinated than their peers. Ensuring that all Colorado children are protected against vaccine-preventable disease is critical both for the health of individual children and for the population at large. For more information from the CDC study, click here.

PBS

Rocky Mountain PBS will air a new NOVA documentary, “Vaccines—Calling the Shots,” on this issue at 8 p.m. Sept. 10. It explores how diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots.

Fast Fact – Aug. 22, 2014

In 2012, only 74 percent of all 2-year-olds in Colorado were fully immunized, ranking us 22nd in the nation. Immunizations help protect children from a number of preventable diseases, including polio, mumps, measles and whooping cough. To find out how Colorado’s 2-year-old immunization rate compares to states around the country, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

New Immunization Law Goes into Effect

Several new laws took effect on July 1st, including HB 14-1288 regarding immunization requirements for child care and school enrollment. The new law requires child care providers and schools to make available upon request information about the immunization and exemption rates in their schools. Today, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a new set of resources  to help child care providers and schools determine the immunization status of children and calculate an immunization rate for their student population.

The Children’s Campaign supported HB14-1288 and is excited to see this first step taken to implement the new law. Our hope is that greater transparency around health and quality standards in educational settings will empower parents to make the best decisions for their children.

Continuing Focus on Immunization Access and Data in Colorado

Immunizations are one of the safest and most cost-effective tools for protecting health of individual children and the population at large, and they are critical to ensuring young children get a healthy start in life. There has been a lot of energy and attention paid to increasing Colorado’s childhood vaccination rate over the past two years and two reports released this week continue this positive momentum.

On Tuesday, the Senate Bill 13-222 Task Force presented final recommendations to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) regarding strategies to increase access to childhood vaccines across Colorado. The Task Force was charged with developing recommendations that would leverage public and private partnerships to provide affordable, sustainable and geographically diverse solutions that reduce barriers to vaccine access across the state. The report identified three specific strategies: (1) establishing infrastructure to support vaccination providers, particularly those that provide vaccines at a relatively low volume and/or in underserved areas; (2) creating a dynamic resource network to address capacity issues and support the needs of vaccinating providers statewide; and (3) explore opportunities for the state to maximize cost-savings available through federal vaccine contract pricing. CDPHE will now begin planning for implementation of these recommendations and will make a presentation to the State Board of Health in August.

Also on Tuesday, the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition released a report of stakeholder recommendations for improvements to the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS), Colorado’s population-based, computerized registry that collects and disseminates consolidated immunization information for Coloradans of all ages. The stakeholder group identified four priorities for investments in CIIS: (1) Optimize CIIS performance; (2) Include newborn hearing/screening data in CIIS; (3) Implement enhancements for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) staff to use CIIS; and (4) Improve functionality and expand access to CIIS for school and child care centers. We look forward to working with the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition and CDPHE in the coming months to explore the feasibility of making these investments to improve data collection on child health.

Capitol Update – Mar. 21, 2014

  • Revenue Forecast: Tuesday, leading state economists presented the March 2014 state revenue and economic forecast. The forecast projects that Colorado’s General Fund revenue will be approximately $93 million higher than the previous forecast in 2013. In short, Colorado’s economy continues to show sustained economic momentum with many indications that the state has among the best-performing economies in the nation. The forecast noted, however, that both nationally and in Colorado, economic progress has not been even, as many communities and regions continue to feel the lingering effects of the economic downturn.The March forecast sets the stage for the 47 days remaining in the 2014 legislative session. Monday, the House of Representatives will introduce the annual spending legislation, the “Long Bill,” that lays out the State of Colorado’s budget for fiscal year 2014-15. Additionally, a flux of pending legislation is now backlogged in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and will now likely begin moving as lawmakers attempt to make the difficult decisions on which priorities to fund, and which priorities will fail due to lack of funding. For more information, see the Legislative Council March Revenue Forecast, the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting Forecast, or news reports from the Denver Post and Chalkbeat CO.
  • Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) Overhaul: HB 14-1317 (Duran, Nicholson/Kefalas) was approved by the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee with a bipartisan 8-5 vote this week. It now moves to the House Appropriations Committee. Bill Jaeger, Children’s Campaign Vice President of Early Learning Initiatives, testified for the bill with several other early learning advocates. Affordable child care should support working parents’ efforts to find and keep good jobs, to move forward in their careers and education, and achieve financial stability. At the same time, all Colorado kids need access to stimulating environments that help them learn and grow. Unfortunately, the low supply and high cost of child care in Colorado denies many working families access to this vital need. One of our best tools to help families afford child care is CCCAP. But red tape and administrative inconsistencies make it unworkable for many working parents and child care providers. The innovative changes proposed for CCCAP would help keep our economy moving by supporting working parents and ensuring more Colorado kids have access to stimulating experiences that let them discover, explore and grow. Click here to read more.
  • Student Success Act: HB 14-1292 (Hamner, Murray/Johnston), was approved by the House Education Committee on a bipartisan 11-1 vote this week. It moves on to the House Appropriations Committee. Children’s Campaign President and CEO Chris Watney had previously testified in support of the bill because it strikes the right balance between putting funding toward cuts made to K-12 education in recent years and targeting one-time dollars toward the populations hit hardest by the recession. “From preschool through graduation, we must ensure that every Colorado child has every chance to succeed,” Watney said. Read more about the proposal and our position on reinvesting in K-12 education.
  • School Finance Act: HB 14-1298 (Hamner, Buckner/Kerr, Steadman) was also approved by the House Education Committee this week with a party line 7-5 vote.  It moves on to the House Appropriations Committee. The annual roadmap for public school spending this year builds on last year’s innovative proposal to allow more children to enroll in the Colorado Preschool Program and full-day kindergarten. “The ingenuity in this bill is the flexibility it provides in expanding access to quality early learning through preschool and full-day kindergarten,” Bill Jaeger, Children’s Campaign Vice President of Early Childhood Initiatives, told lawmakers in a previous hearing.
  • Tighten Vaccine Opt-Out Rules: HB 14-1288 (Pabon/Aguilar) was approved with a bi-partisan vote voice vote by the House of Representatives on Friday morning. After the third reading it will move to the Senate. The bill strikes the right balance between preserving parental choice and protecting public health, by ensuring parents are making well-informed and carefully considered choices about vaccinating their children before enrolling them in child care or school. Proponents of the bill include parents, public health officials, school leaders, early childhood experts, infectious disease specialists and advocates from across Colorado.  Read more about the bill in past issues of KidsFlash or download a fact sheet for more information.