Healthcare charges surpass $1.1 billion for vaccine-preventable diseases in Colorado

Local News

In this Wednesday, March 24, 2021 image from video provided by Duke Health, Alejandra Gerardo, 9, looks up to her mom, Dr. Susanna Naggie, as she gets the first of two Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations during a clinical trial for children at Duke Health in Durham, N.C. In the U.S. and abroad, researchers are beginning to test younger and younger kids, to make sure the shots are safe and work for each age. (Shawn Rocco/Duke Health via AP)

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — While COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise in Colorado, childhood vaccine rates a sinking at an alarming rate.

An independent report released from Children’s Hospital Colorado on Monday shows that healthcare charges to treat vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, flu and whooping cough in Colorado adults and children reached $1.1 billion. That was before COVID-19 emerged.

Children’s Colorado said vaccine-preventable diseases were the culprit in over 14,000 hospitalizations and emergency department visits in children, and over 20,000 in adults.

In 2020, Colorado’s already-low childhood vaccination rates dropped further when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Compared to the number of doses delivered January to March 15, doses delivered after March 15 to May were 31% lower for children 0-2 years, 78% lower for 3-9 years, and 82% lower for 10-17 years of age. Although vaccination rates have improved since this initial drop, they have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The group most impacted by low VPD vaccination rates where publically insured and uninsured children and adults, with medical bills amounting to $900 million in 2019.

“The consequences of this period of under-vaccination may only become clear as pandemic mitigation measures ease up over the next year,” said Doctor Jessican Cataldi, the report’s co-author and infectious diseases pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Low VPD vaccination rates could lead to more school absences post pandemic. The Immunize Colorado analysis of the Colorado 2019-20 school year shows that potentially 45,000 students would possibly be excluded from school for up to 21 days due to missing their MMR — measles, mumps, rubella — vaccine.

“That’s why it’s critical for health care providers to create opportunities for vaccination catch-up now and help get kids back on track,” said Dr. Cataldi.

For more information on VPDs and vaccination catch-up, visit the Immunize Colorado website.

Most Read

Top Stories

More Home Page Top Stories