According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Colorado has the lowest immunization rates of kindergartners for Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) at 87.2 percent. This statistic is important because as an airborne virus measles has a high contagion rate. Measles causes a rash, fever, sore and watery eyes and can lead to death in the most vulnerable community members. Recent research (Science News June 8, 2019) has shown that the measles virus attacks the immune system and wipes clean its memory of past infections. This puts patients at risk for fatal infections for months after recovering from the measles.Due to the high infectivity rate of measles the CDC estimates that at least 93 percent of the population be vaccinated to keep measles from spreading. Lower levels allow the disease to spread.One reason for our low vaccination rate is zhat Colorado allows people to opt out of vaccinations for medical, religious and personal reasons. Some parents are concerned about the safety and side effects of the vaccines even though these concerns have been fully evaluated and the benefits of vaccines far outweigh any risks. These parents chose personal reasons to refuse immunizations for their children despite physicians’ best efforts to provide vaccine information and support.
Measles epidemics are a public health hazard as the state of California learned the hard way after an extended outbreak. Now California only allows medical reasons to opt out of immunizations. I support a similar change in Colorado’s public health laws to protect all its citizens.
Joan A. MacEachen MD, MPH