Colorado parents of infants will soon begin to receive a Hallmark card… reminding them to vaccinate their children!
This week, Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien announced a partnership with Hallmark Card, Inc., to send all Colorado parents a Hallmark card reminder to schedule their children for shots. The card will also include a growth chart and an immunization record with a list of all recommended vaccinations for children under the age of two.
According to the Lt. Governor’s press release, approximately 70,000 babies are born annually in Colorado. Roughly 55,580 of those children—or 79.4% are immunized, according to National Immunization Survey data.
That’s above the national average of 76.1%. And it’s a number that has improved fairly significantly in the last decade—thanks to increased outreach and better tracking mechanisms. In 2002 and 2003, Colorado was ranked 50th in the nation for childhood immunizations, with only a 68% immunization rate, according to O’Brien spokeswoman Ellen Dumm.
Dumm added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goal is 80% by 2010. “So we’re close,” she pointed out.
The Lt. Governor’s press release noted that a June, 2009 study by Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Institute of Health Research showed that children whose parents refuse vaccines are 23 times more likely to get whooping cough. Over half of the vaccine-preventable disease cases in Colorado occur in children less than two years of age, according to The Children’s Hospital in Denver.
Nonetheless, the number of parents refusing immunizations appears to be increasing in the United States, noted the researchers on the Kaiser study.
A 2008 New York Times story also noted a rise in refusals:
In 1991, less than 1 percent of children in the states with personal-belief exemptions went without vaccines based on the exemption; by 2004, the most recent year for which data are available, the percentage had increased to 2.54 percent, said Saad B. Omer, an assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dumm is still confirming the cost of the program.