John Bender wants to make not vaccinating a child in Colorado as socially unacceptable as smoking inside a restaurant.
He’s a doctor and president-elect of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians.
But, it might be a long time until Coloradoans adopt Bender’s philosophy, if recent state rankings are any sort of indication.
Colorado’s rate for immunizing the state’s children, from birth to 35 months, declined from 83.4 percent during 2005, to 80.3 percent during 2006, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a ranking of all 50 states, Colorado declined from 16th during 2005 to 30th for the percentage of immunized children. The national average for childhood immunization rates stayed fairly constant at 80.8 percent during 2005, compared to 80.6 percent during 2006.
Colorado still has some work to do to reach the national 95 percent benchmark set forth by the CDC, said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, medical director of the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment.
And so, the education continues.
The Colorado Academy of Family Physicians is boosting education about children’s immunization rates in Colorado with a campaign next month titled “Personally, I Care.”
The recently passed Colorado Immunization Bill expands the voluntary statewide registry to a life-long registry and adds access to newborn screening results. It also authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to look at immunization accessibility across the state.
And the vaccinations get updated as more research is completed.
A vaccine that was licensed in June 2006 is the human papillomavirus vaccine, Albanese said. “It is a universal recommendation for all girls age 11-12, but it’s not required yet.”
Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. An estimated 6.2 million people are infected every year.
HPV is responsible for cervical cancer in women and other types of anogenital cancers and genital warts for both men and women. The recommended schedule is three doses during the course of six months. The vaccine can be administered as young as age 9, to age 26, and works best in girls who have not become sexually active.
The Merck pharmaceutical company is looking into HPV in men and different age groups, she said.
Childhood immunizations also change with new discoveries.
In January, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approved three additional vaccine requirements for children in childcare and school settings.
The vaccines are for pneumococcal disease, chickenpox and for tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis – which is different from the already required diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis immunization.
Nationally, the CDC recommends the routine vaccination of preschool children with the Pneumococcal Disease (Prevnar/PVC7) vaccine. It will now be required for children in licensed child care.
Children entering kindergarten are required to have a second dose of varicella or chickenpox vaccination unless there is documentation by a health care provider that the child has had chickenpox. The second dose will be implemented on an integrated schedule. Every year, a new grade will be required to comply with the requirement.
Apparently kids were still getting chicken pox if exposed to it.
“They found with the second dose of the chicken pox vaccine it could boost the immune system up enough to remove breakthrough sessions,” Albanese said.
In general, a total of five doses of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough vaccine are required for students entering a Colorado school for the first time. Colorado ranks fifth among states with this disease.
Only four doses of the vaccine are required if the fourth dose was administered on or after a child’s fourth birthday. CDC recommends all 11- and 12-year-olds receive a dose of Tdap. In Colorado, Tdap vaccination will be required for all sixth- and 10th-graders this school year. In subsequent years, that schedule will incorporate other grades.