Back to school vaccines: Exemptions & concerns

Posted at 4:30 AM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 08:51:00-04

DENVER — As you're buying school supplies and getting your kids back to school, going to the doctor may also be on the checklist; But in Colorado, not all kids have to get their shots. Families can be exempt from getting their kids vaccinated for three different reasons.

Colorado schools accept medical, religious and personal belief exemptions. Eighteen states in the United States accept personal belief reasons. With the exceptions, doctors said Colorado communities have lower immunization rates compared to other states around the nation.

"Colorado is not very high. Some of the highest states have the more rigorous exemption policies, so they don't allow for personal belief exemptions. It puts even more onus on parents and physicians to do their best to keep kids healthy," said Dr. Steven Perry, Cherry Creek Pediatrics Physician.

Colorado parents have access to vaccine rates at schools and day cares online here before choosing where to send their children.

Colorado Coalition for Vaccine Choice (CCVC) said the organization supports informed consent, vaccine exemptions and privacy and medical decisions. President of CCVC Francis Sincere quoted Executive Director of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) Barbara Loe Fisher in saying "Where there is risk there must be choice."

Parents have shared their beliefs and opinions with CCVC in a survey this year. Those results can be found here.

"Vaccines are one of the most evidence based safety and effective things they (parents) can do for their kids," said Dr. Perry.

A recent study in Colorado looked at the connection between vaccine coverage and measles outbreaks. With Colorado's current policy, the study suggests the state is three times more likely to experience a measles outbreak compared to states with medium or difficult policies.

Denver7 also spoke with a representative and parent involved with Colorado Parents for Vaccinated Communities (CPVC). CPVC is a parent-focused organization of Colorado parents who support pro-vaccine policy for the safety of children and communities.