Twenty-one years ago, the WHO declared the USA a measles-free country. However, since that time, numerous cases of measles have erupted in different states. There have been outbreaks in Washington and New York, Michigan and California, New Jersey, and American Samoa. Measles is a highly contagious disease, and vaccination remains the best protection against this treacherous enemy. In a world where traveling becomes more and more popular and people are constantly on the move, it is hard to stay away from the events worldwide. Getting to the US with travelers, measles has spread due to the low vaccination rate of the population. Recent initiatives in different states aim to correct this situation.
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Overview of Colorado vaccination policy
According to the country’s health policy, vaccination against measles is strongly recommended. State legislation requires two shots of measles-containing vaccine, starting at the age of 12-15 months with an interval of approximately four years. Vaccinations of infant kids are important since this age group is especially vulnerable to measles and the odds that the diseases may be deadly are pretty high (Pike et al., 2020). Colorado State is no exemption; it requires two shots of live, attenuated measles vaccine with the interval of four years for children and at least one dose for adults born during or after 1957 (Measles vaccination recommendations).
People born before 1957 are believed to have had measles and enjoy a natural immunity (Measles vaccination recommendations). Health care personnel, international travelers, and post-graduate students must have two shots since they have higher risks of getting infected (Measles vaccination recommendations). Children may be exempted from vaccination either on medical grounds or due to their parents’ beliefs.
Effectiveness of Colorado vaccination policy
So far, this policy has been relatively effective; against the background of major outbreaks in the country where dozens of people have been infected, Colorado state has remained a non-outbreak area. This year only one case of measles has been reported, and only 11 cases have been reported within the last 19 years (Richter, 2020). However, there are reasons to believe that luck has more to do with this state of affairs than actual action.
The state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country: only 88.7 percent of children under seven years old have been vaccinated (Seaman, 2019). With the recommended vaccination level of 95 percent among children, the state population has every reason to fear a possible outbreak. Colorado is vulnerable to disease; more and more people speak out for an obligatory vaccination. However, the number of those who oppose vaccination is still high.
Latest initiatives in the vaccination field
A new bill has recently been proposed to make it harder for parents not to vaccinate their children. This bill suggests mandatory reporting to health organizations if parents decide not to vaccinate their kids (Williams, 2021). The idea is that if a child becomes infected and dies or gets serious complications, the parents will be asked why they did not vaccinate their kid. This measure may push some families towards considering vaccination. However, when the bill was discussed, a crowd gathered to oppose the adoption of this bill. The debates have been long and fierce, with doctors and medical experts testifying on both sides. The bill was passed in the first reading; however, now it is unclear whether lawmakers will not postpone it to give way to less controversial bills in the remaining limited time. So far, Colorado’s state policy on vaccination issues remains unchanged.
With the outbreaks of measles nationwide, it is high time for state legislators to consider measures to combat the disease. However, these measures must not infringe on personal freedoms and beliefs held by particular communities. With fierce debates on the necessity of vaccination, propaganda and media coverage may be among the best options to educate people about disease prevention.
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Measles vaccination recommendations. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Web.
Pike, J., Leidner, A. J., & Gastañaduy, P. A. (2020). A review of measles outbreak cost estimates from the United States in the post-elimination era (2004–2017): estimates by perspective and cost type. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 71(6), 1568-1576.
Richter, A. (2020). Measles Exposure Investigation in a Children’s Hospital Emergency Department—Denver Metropolitan Area, Colorado, 2019. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 41(1), 18-19. Web.
Seaman, J. (2019) How vulnerable is Colorado to a measles outbreak due to its low vaccination rate? Denver Post. Web.
Williams, A. (2021) Vaccination showdown: Lawmaker, health experts stand up to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Web.