Do you know what county in Colorado has the lowest rate of childhood immunizations? If you said Boulder County, you are right. This sad state of affairs was highlighted for Boulder Rotary by Lila Rosenman of the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coaltion (CCIC) as part of her program “Standing Up for Children’s Immunizations.”
Do you know what county in the US has the lowest rate of childhood immunizations? Again, if you said Boulder County, you are right; the county’s unvaccinated rate hovers around 17%, while the desired immunization rate to confer “herd immunity” on a population is around 95%.

The measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2015 (affecting 147 people in 14 states) illustrated the dangers of failing to vaccinate children against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough…diseases that were once widespread but now can be prevented by vaccines. However, with “alternative science” on the rise, parents may succumb to misconceptions and myths about vaccines, leading to hesitancy to vaccinate and, in some cases, seeking exemption from the requirement that their children be vaccinated.

Colorado has one of the most lenient exemption policies in the country.  While less than 1% of those seeking exemption opt out for religious reasons, more than 93% opt out for reasons of “personal belief.”  Despite widespread anecdotes on social media, there is no scientific evidence of a link between vaccination and autism. Lila informed us that there is a 1 in 1.2 million chance of being injured by a vaccine, compared to a 1 in 252 chance of being injured in an automobile accident.

The CCIC focuses on building coalitions, community outreach and awareness, provider education and public policy around this important issue. Their “Shots for Tots and Teens” program engages community partners in providing low or no cost immunizations in convenient times at convenient locations. Rotary Clubs in Denver, Aurora and Arvada are already participating. Lila challenged our club, and other clubs in Boulder County, to become involved in this important effort.

Other ways to become involved include inquiring about immunization rates in our local schools and day care facilities (https://www.cohealthdata.dphe.state.co.us/Data/Details/1), sharing factual information in our social networks, and advocating with our legislators for tighter state requirements.