School Immunization Rates in California
How are school immunization rates obtained?
Each year, California schools with 10 or more kindergarteners provide Immunization Coverage Data to the California Department of Public Health. Smaller schools were excluded to help protect privacy.
What immunizations do children need to enter school in California?
California law requires that children receive specific immunizations before entering public and private Kindergarten-12th grade schools, licensed child care centers and related institutions. Most children need booster shots before starting kindergarten to meet these requirements.
In addition, California law requires that schools:
Details are provided in the California Immunization Handbook for Schools and Child Care Programs.
What exemptions does California law provide?
Children with appropriate medical conditions may receive temporary or permanent medical exemptions, if authorized by their physicians.
Children who have already had the diseases of measles, mumps, rubella or chickenpox may receive exemptions from the associated vaccines, if authorized by their physicians.
Parents who want to exempt their child from one or more required immunizations because of their personal beliefs must provide to the school or child care facility:
- A letter or affidavit requesting an exemption that states that the required immunization(s) are contrary to their beliefs, and
- A statement signed and dated by a health care practitioner and parent indicating that the practitioner has provided, and the parent has received, information about the benefits and risks of immunizations and the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Parents and health care practitioners must see the one-page form that meets all the above requirements developed by the California Department of Public Health and available from many schools and health care practitioners. The form is available at www.shotsforschool.org
To protect themselves and others from spreading disease, children with any of these exemptions can be excluded from school during an outbreak of a disease against which they are not fully immunized. Schools with lower immunization rates are more vulnerable to the spread of diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
Most children with exemptions have received at least some of the required vaccines. In addition to the vaccines for which an exemption is being requested, parents must show the school or child care facility a valid record of which of the immunizations required for school or child care that their child has received. This will help schools know right away which students have and haven’t been immunized when a vaccine-preventable disease may be spreading at school. For more information, visit www.shotsforshool.org.