Governor Polis is joined by Colorado legislators and members of the State Department of Public Health and Environment while signing an executive order aimed at improving Colorado's immunization rates (Photo: Connor Shreve/KOA News Radio)
"We're moving forward with improving the public health and saving people money on health care in Colorado," Governor Jared Polis exclaimed Thursday morning after signing an executive order that's intended to increase Colorado's lagging immunization rates.
Vaccination rates among Colorado's kindergartners are among the worst in the nation. Polis says treatment for vaccine-preventable diseases in Colorado children totaled more than 55 million dollars last year.
The executive order calls for the implementation of a public education and outreach campaign to address vaccine hesitancy and access issues. It also aims to improve access and cost issues in low-access areas and calls on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop more consistent and standardized exemption policy.
"We believe that Colorado families should be making their own health care decisions," Polis said. "At the same time, there's simple steps that we can take that will increase the vaccination rate while honoring the ability of parents and families to make their own health care decisions."
One of those steps includes bringing Colorado immunization practices in line with national best practices. The order also calls for the implementation of a policy that incentivizes Medicaid Primary Care Medical Providers to participate in the Vaccines for Children program to improve vaccine access in undeserved areas.
Doctor Tony Cappello says the CDPHE is in agreement with the order.
"Increasing vaccination rates in Colorado means that we have adequate community immunity," Dr. Cappello said. "Which also means that we have enough community members that are vaccinated to prevent a disease outbreak. Not only do they save lives, but vaccinations also save money. Our recent reports show that over 9,400 Colorado kids sought treatment for vaccine-preventable diseases. More interesting is that cost of care was over 55 million dollars."
Dr. Cappello says health care providers are fighting a lack of information when it comes to vaccinations and applauded the focus on education included in the executive order.