Making sure that our children receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things we can do as a parent to ensure their long-term health—as well as the health of their friends, classmates, and others in our community. All 50 states in US have legislation requiring specified vaccines for children and require certain age-appropriate vaccines to be administered before children may enroll and attend either childcare or school. Thereby, not only providing vaccination but keeping up-to-date immunization records of our children, is equally important. We all need these immunization records to register our children for school, child care, athletic teams, and summer camps or to travel.
State Immunization Laws in USA
State laws establish vaccination requirements for school children. These laws often apply not only to children attending public schools but also to those attending private schools and daycare facilities. All states provide medical exemptions while only some state laws offer exemptions from immunization. These State laws only establish mechanisms for enforcement of school vaccination requirements and exemptions (enforcement).
What are my state immunization requirements for Child Care and School?
Each state in the US decides which immunizations are required for a child’s enrollment and attendance at a childcare facility or school in that state. Also, these immunization requirements and exemptions may vary by state or change regularly. If you’re unsure of your state’s school requirements, you can check with your child’s doctor, your child’s school, or your health department (Immunization program) Link: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/awardee-imz-websites.html
Alternatively, use this tool (https://www2a.cdc.gov/nip/schoolsurv/schImmRqmt.asp) to help find information about immunization requirement and exemptions allowed. (Select your state under “Grantee” options, your child’s level [childcare, kindergarten, middle school, or university/college], and click “Get Results” to view your state vaccination requirements.)
How Can I record immunization record for my child?
Although we need official copies of immunizations records to enroll a child in child care or school, we can record our children’s immunizations or developmental milestones for our personal records using this Milestones Tracker on CDC.gov
How do I retrieve my child immunization record for official purposes?
If you need official copies of immunization records for your child, look at these places:
- Doctor’s office or clinic where your child gets immunizations
- State health department: You can either request a copy of your child’s immunization record. Or, you can find out your child’s record in immunization registry, or Immunization Information System (IIS). This IIS is a computer system that your doctor or public health clinic may use to keep track of child’s immunizations. Most states have an IIS. This is usually used by healthcare providers to provide you with immunization record but parents may also access their child’s it by obtaining a Personal Identification Number from their child’s healthcare provider. You can contact the IIS in the state here (https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/iis/contacts-locate-records.html#state)
- Schools your child has attended
What if I am not able to retrieve my child immunization records or they are incomplete?
If your child has missing vaccination, it’s better to reach his/her health care provider. Children can have their blood tested for antibodies to determine their immunity to certain diseases. In some cases, doctors may prefer to revaccinate your child for best protection.
In case of incomplete documentation or a vaccination that require the required number of doses, a child may (depending on state laws) be admitted after the first dose(s) and issued a Temporary Medical Exemption form and scheduled for the next dose(s) according to age and dosage spacing. This temporary medical form comes with an expiration date.
I am travelling to USA with my child (on H4 visa), do I need to carry my child’s immunization records?
Yes, you will need your child’s record for further age appropriate vaccination as well as future admissions in schools or day care. Since I live in Florida, I require completed Florida Department of Health Certification of Immunization (DH 680 Form) documenting immunization or exemption for the form to enroll my child in school. Florida has state-wide immunization registry, Florida SHOTS from where my child’s health care provider can directly produce an electronically signed copy of the completed DH 680 Form. This (http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/immunization/_documents/dh-680-sample.pdf) is the sample of immunization form required in Florida (only).
What are your experiences with immunization in other US states ? Any specifics ?