Vaccination exemptions decline in Grand Junction

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — Fewer Grand Junction students have been exempted from vaccinations by their parents this school year than last, but the status of nearly 260 others is unclear.

The parents of 557 students in Mesa County Valley School District 51 have refused vaccinations in the 2013-14 year, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Sunday (

However, 256 other children are listed as "in process" this year, which means schools don't have records showing whether they are immunized or exempt.

In the 2012-13 school year, parents of 679 students refused vaccinations for their children.

District 51 has 21,000 students.

State law allows parents to exempt their children from required vaccinations for religious, medical or personal reasons. Unvaccinated children can be asked to leave school temporarily during an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease.

At least 97 percent of exemptions listed personal beliefs, District 51 Immunization Coordinator Katie Nicoletti said.

Nicoletti said the specifics of those beliefs are unknown, because the form requires only a signature, not an explanation.

Statewide vaccination rates are unknown because Colorado has no centralized database. State law requires districts to provide data to members of the public on request, but schools are not required to report the information to the state, said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, deputy director of the state health department's Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division.

State officials are working to create a database where schools can voluntarily report data, she said.

A survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Colorado last among 48 states polled for vaccination rates during the 2013-14 school year, but Herlihy said that might not give a complete picture of the state's situation.


Information from: The Daily Sentinel,

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