School is starting and new COVID-19 boosters could be around the corner
With children going back to school and another COVID-19 variant of concern circulating, state and local public health officials are reminding residents to vaccinate themselves and their families.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is warning that immunization rates for school-required vaccines fell below 90% for the second year in a row at the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
“The data we’ve collected should provide parents and guardians with a warning signal that now is the time to make sure their children are vaccinated,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy in a news release.
San Juan Basin Public Health will be hosting back-to-school clinics for middle school students to ensure students are up to date on routine vaccinations.
“SJBPH tracks several different communicable diseases that could be in our community. This includes anything from disease we don’t see often like measles and mumps to seasonal diseases such as flu, RSV, and norovirus,” said Tiffany Switzer, the department’s interim executive director in an email. “The best thing that parents, teachers and students can do to stay healthy during the school year is to stay up to date on their vaccines (MMR, Chickenpox, Flu, COVID) and stay home when they are sick.”
Vaccines required to enter child care
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTap)
- Haemophilus influenzatype b (Hib)
- Inactivated poliovirus (IPV)
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13 or PCV15)
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
Vaccines required to enter school (K-12)
- Hepatitis B.
- Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTap).*
- Inactivated poliovirus (IPV).*
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR).*
- Varicella (chickenpox).*
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap)**
* Students 4 through 6 years of age are required to have their final doses of DTaP, IPV, MMR and Varicella prior to kindergarten entry.
** Students are required to have Tdap prior to entry into 6th grade. One dose of Tdap is required for 6th through 12th grades.
Now that the public health emergency related to COVID-19 has ended, resources related to the virus may become more complicated to obtain. The vaccine will be commercialized at the end of August, but free test and masks are available in the SJBPH lobbies in both Durango and Pagosa Springs.
Switzer said the EG.5 COVID subvariant has been detected in the state, but wastewater monitoring has not indicated its presence in La Plata or Archuleta counties.
A new booster will arrive this fall, Switzer said. Official guidance regarding who should receive the updated vaccine is still pending.
Once vaccines are commercialized, under- or uninsured children and those on Medicaid will still be able to access free vaccines. Uninsured adults will still be able to receive COVID-19 vaccines for free through the Bridge Access program.
The department is also tracking this year’s flu vaccine and a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine for adults, which is expected later this year.