How to Talk to Parents About Back-to-School Shots
Back to School – Preventing Vaccine Bullying
Theresa K. Wrangham, Executive Director
It’s July and many parents and college students are receiving their enrollment packages for the upcoming academic year. Families are also making new daycare decisions, or renewing daycare agreements.
As a parent, I have filled out my share of school enrollment packages and then mentored my adult children so that they could make their own decisions during the college enrollment process and beyond. I’ve both seen and experienced vaccine bullying, and I know first hand the importance of understanding vaccine policies and laws that govern the enrollment process.
This article provides timely vaccine resource information to assist our readers during enrollment and to prevent families and adults from being bullied into making vaccine decisions that do not align with their values and beliefs.
School Vaccine Requirements & Exemptions
NVIC receives numerous inquiries every year about school vaccine requirements and exemptions. School vaccine mandates (requirements) and exemptions vary from state to state because they are determined by each state’s legislature. You will need to understand the laws of your specific state.
State law also dictates how often school vaccine paperwork must be submitted, to whom that paperwork is submitted, as well as how personal vaccine information is shared with a state’s immunization information system (IIS), more commonly known as a vaccine registry.
State vaccine laws can also vary on which settings the law applies to, such as day care, K-12, and college, as well as whether or not the law applies to private schools. In Colorado, for example, the school vaccine law applies to day care facilities and private schools. Understanding how your state’s vaccine laws apply to a specific setting is helpful when completing enrollment documents.
Vaccine Requirements vs. Recommendations
Sadly, one of the stories often shared by parents with NVIC is that they have been incorrectly told by a school official, health care professional, or day care professional that all vaccines on the CDC’s recommended childhood schedule are required for enrollment. Exemption information is often not disclosed in these conversations.
While there are some states and private institutions that do require all federally recommended vaccines as a condition of enrollment, the majority of states require fewer vaccines than the 69 doses recommended by the CDC from birth to age 18. Additionally, most states offer varying degrees of vaccine exemptions. NVIC provides an overview of the difference between a vaccine requirement and a vaccine recommendation that many readers have found helpful as they navigate school and day care enrollment requirements.