Local clinics offer free vaccinations for children
Health officials know that routine medical and immunization visits for children have declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to the fact that general childhood immunization rates in Colorado are lower than in the United States. rest of the country.
According to the Vaccine Preventable Disease Report released by Children’s Hospital Colorado in April, Colorado’s immunization coverage is below average for young children. Only 64% of Coloradans born in 2017 completed the recommended seven-vaccine series in 24 months, ranking Colorado 43rd out of 50 states. The report noted that 78% of Colorado children born in 2017 completed the recommended immunization series at 35 months, which ranks Colorado 25th in routine immunizations for that age.
In 2019, Colorado children had more than 14,000 hospitalizations and emergency room visits due to vaccine-preventable illnesses, the report notes, with the most common reasons for these medical trips being influenza, pneumococcal disease, sickness. chickenpox (chickenpox) and whooping cough (whooping cough). cough).
The Children’s Hospital Colorado report encourages parents to call the pediatrician or primary care providers to make sure children and teens are up to date with their immunizations.
“If we don’t catch up on these missed doses, thousands of Colorado children could remain vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases,” the April report notes. “The consequences of this period of under-vaccination can only become clear when social distancing measures decline over the coming year.”
Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith wants to make sure all children in the county receive regular childhood immunizations, and she hopes the attention to COVID-19 and flu shots doesn’t not interfere with other necessary childhood vaccines. This is one of the reasons the Routt County Public Health Department is joining the long list of local medical offices and pharmacies that are already offering free vaccines to eligible children under the Vaccines for Children program funded by the Government. federal government. The VCF offers free vaccines for children up to the age of 18 who are either uninsured, underinsured, Medicaid or Medicaid eligible and / or Native American or Alaska Native.
The county’s relatively new public health department will provide an additional safety net for immunizations when the department begins providing appointments for childhood vaccines later this month, Smith said. Routine immunizations for children will be administered by appointment in the same small location where COVID-19 vaccines are currently administered to the department in the annex building of the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs. Currently, the department is providing this service in a converted break room, but Smith is anxiously awaiting the fact that the department will have two new clinic rooms in the county health and social services building when it is completed in 2023. .
“With the pandemic, a lot of people may not have been tracking childhood immunizations as well, so there is a statewide goal that children continue to be up to date,” Smith said.
The director said statistics showed 78.7% of Routt County children aged 19 to 35 months were up to date on the childhood “gold standard” of seven vaccinations from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2020. Smith said some 850 children in Routt County are eligible. for free vaccines for children.
Eligible children can receive vaccines for free at many different Vaccines for Children locations across the county, ranging from South Routt Medical Center in Oak Creek to Northwest Colorado Health to Pediatrics of Steamboat Springs, including the satellite office in Hayden, to Memorial Regional Health Family Practice. on Curve Court in Steamboat Springs.
More information on the VFC is available at CDC.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/index.html.
Childhood injections can be given and information recorded from multiple locations in the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) statewide, so Colorado parents don’t have to. no need to carry a paper file for vaccinations. Parents from outside Colorado moving to the state should bring their children’s immunization records from the other state to the first immunization appointment in Colorado, Smith said.
Smith recommends that families find a medical home or primary care provider for their children for visits to sick and healthy children, which is why local medical providers participate in the free immunization program, Smith said. .
“Payment shouldn’t be a barrier to vaccinations,” Smith said. “We must always let people know that programs exist with great coverage in our county and take advantage of them to ensure that children are fully immunized. Routine childhood immunizations should always be on parents’ radar. “
A warning from the VFC program, children whose existing health insurance covers the cost of vaccinations are not eligible for VFC vaccines, even when a claim for the cost of the vaccine and administration is denied for payment by the company insurance because the plan deductible has not been met.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email [email protected]