Colorado teen vaccination rate better than national average

Colorado teenagers have the nation’s highest rate of immunization against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its first report that examines state by state immunization rates, the CDC said that 63 percent of Colorado teenagers received the Tdap shot, compared with 40 percent nationwide.

Other immunizations measured for teens include meningococcal conjugate vaccine and human papilloma virus. The Colorado rates for MCV are 32 percent, compared to the national average of 42 percent, and HPV is 34 percent compared to the national rate of 37 percent.

“I’m encouraged that we are heading in the right direction in immunizing our young people,” said Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “I’m thrilled that our state is leading the nation with the Tdap vaccination and this report comes on the heels of a report ranking us 10th in immunizing our preschoolers.”

The Tdap, MCV and HPV vaccines are recommended to be given at a child’s 11-12-year-old doctor’s visit because these are either diseases that teens are more prone to contracting themselves or can spread to others including younger children in their home. The CDC routinely recommends these adolescent vaccines at routine well visits.

“Teenagers are a group where we see illnesses spread quickly because they often are in close contact with each other. By immunizing teens we not only are protecting them, but also protecting everyone else in their home, like younger siblings, from some serious diseases,” said Joni Reynolds, director of the state Immunization Program.

After recognizing rates for pertussis were higher for these age groups in Colorado, the Colorado Board of Health in 2007 mandated that children entering 6th and 10th grades receive Tdap. The Board of Health rules include exemptions for personal, religious or medical reasons.