DENVER (AP) — Colorado's ranking for childhood immunization rates is improving despite coverage levels staying relatively steady over the past decade and national surveys that often show it falling below average.
The state ranks 14th nationwide in immunizations, up from 36th in a previous ranking, according to a new study from Children's Hospital Colorado and the Colorado Children's Immunization Coalition.
Still, about one in four children lack needed immunizations at 36 months of age, the study found, and one of its authors says a looming funding fight could derail the state's standing.
Study co-author Dr. Edwin Asturias, associate director of the Center for Global Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, chalked up the improved ranking to several factors: the Affordable Care Act, efforts to improve access to immunizations in rural areas and the use of a system that lets doctors and parents keep track of scheduled vaccinations.
The tracking system, known as the Colorado Immunization Information System, provides a tremendous advantage over the prior practice of tracking vaccinations using paper records, Asturias said.
But the system also has drawn controversy.
Berthoud Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg has questioned the system's legality and said he wants to stop funding its $3.3 million annual budget.
"The department needs to know that my intention is to not provide any funding for that program," Lundberg told a recent meeting of the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee, according to The Denver Post. "The tracking system has gotten way out of control and I, frankly, seriously question whether they are within legal bounds right now.".
The Joint Budget Committee has pushed back its decision on funding the system for next year.
State Rep. Millie Hamner, another budget committee member, said at this month's meeting that she intends to fight to keep funding for the system in place. "I do think these are important services to fund," said Hamner, a Democrat from Dillon.