DENVER — Low vaccination rates are one of the biggest public health threats in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado ranks last among states for kindergarten vaccination rates. The national average is 94%. Colorado’s rate is around 89%.
So, what are the least vaccinated elementary schools on the Front Range in Colorado?
For months, the FOX31 Problem Solvers analyzed data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine which schools report low numbers to the state.
Data is also available online at COVaxRates.org.
To rank the schools, the Problem Solvers looked at the overall immunized rate for schools as well as the kindergarten vaccination rate. The Problem Solvers looked at the MMR (measles mumps and rubella) rate since health officials have expressed a concern about a measles outbreak.
Colorado health officials recommend a 95% compliance rate to prevent an outbreak
#5 Least Vaccinated School
School: St. Vrain Community Montessori School
Immunized Rate for Measles 2018-2019 school year: 68% entire school; 64% kindergarten class
#4 Least Vaccinated School
School: Vega Collegiate School
Immunized Rate for Measles 2018-2019 school year: 68% entire school; 24% kindergarten class
#3 Least Vaccinated School
School: Imagine Charter Academy
Immunized Rate for Measles 2018-2019 school year: 64% entire school; 27% kindergarten class
#2 Least Vaccinated School
School: Columbine Elementary
Immunized Rate for Measles 2018-2019 school year: 59% entire school; 46% kindergarten class
#1 Least Vaccinated School
School: Montessori Del Mundo Charter School
Immunized Rate for Measles 2018-2019 school year: 48% entire school; 52% kindergarten class
The Fox 31 Problem Solvers reached out to each school for an on-camera interview.
What is the least vaccinated school district on the Front Range?
The Problem Solvers also reviewed district-wide information. The least vaccinated school district is Boulder Valley RE 2. Ninety-two percent of students throughout the district are vaccinated for measles. Among kindergartners, 88% are vaccinated for MMR. Again, it is recommended to districts to have a 95% immunized rate to prevent an outbreak.
Boulder Re 2 speaks to the Problem Solvers
FOX31 reporter Joe St. George asked Stephanie Faren, the director of Health Services for Re 2, whether she worries about an outbreak.
“It is probably a matter of when, not if,” Faren said.
The Problem Solvers learned the district stays neutral when it comes to advising parents on what to do.
“How delicate of an issue is this?” St. George asked.
“Incredibly delicate,” Faren said.
“Do you personally tell parents? Do you advise them to vaccinate their kids?” St. George asked.
“We don’t personally advise anybody to take any medical care,” Faren said.
Faren said parents in Boulder have differing views on vaccines and the district respects that.
“I feel confident that if we do have an outbreak, we would be able to respond quickly,” Faren said.
Boulder County Public Health speaks
While the school district does not take a position, Boulder County Public Health makes clear that it does.
“There are people who email our newsroom and say, ‘I didn’t vaccinate my child and they are better for it?’ St. George asked Dr. Indira Gujra, a disease expert with Boulder County.
“What would you say to them?” St. George asked.
“I would say, ‘You are at risk for potential disease’,” Gujra said.
Gujra said a parent’s decision to delay vaccination can have impacts on an entire community.
“Vaccinations save lives,” Gujra said.