Vaccines for School
This section provides information for parents, school administrators and staff, and health care professionals, on immunization requirements for school attendance in Oklahoma and links to lesson plans to educate students about vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines.
Oklahoma Immunization Law
School immunization laws are one of the most effective ways to prevent disease outbreaks. Outbreaks of diseases such as diphtheria, polio, and measles were common in schools before vaccines were available. Schools were major sites for transmission of these diseases. School immunization laws work and now these diseases have almost vanished from the United States. We all have our parents and grandparents to thank for supporting these laws. If we keep vaccinating our children we can look forward to a future when these diseases will be eradicated.
Parents - How to Meet the School Requirements
Take one or more of the following to the school:
- A record of your child's vaccinations,
- A record showing your child is in the process of receiving the required vaccines:
- Student's must complete the vaccines on schedule,
- Obtain a schedule to complete the vaccines from your doctor or clinic and give a copy to the school,
- Apply for an exemption.
- Complete the exemption certificate (69k.pdf) and take it to the school. Please note: Exemption certificates that are not properly completed or have missing information will not be approved and will be returned to the school for the parent to correct or complete.
- County health departments and private doctors do not have exemption certificates.
- Parents are not required nor should they come to the Oklahoma State Department of Health to obtain an exemption certificate.
- Oklahoma law allows exemptions for medical, religious or personal reasons.
- There is no legal penalty for parents or guardians who obtain exemptions for these reasons. However, unvaccinated children are at greater risk of catching the diseases and might be excluded from school for the duration of a disease outbreak if one occurs.
- In the case of a disease outbreak in a school, representatives of the Oklahoma State Department of Health or local health department will visit the school, thoroughly review student immunization records, and make recommendations to the Commissioner of Health on whether or not students with exemptions should be excluded from school or school functions for the duration of the outbreak.
- The Commissioner of Health has the authority to exclude students with exemptions from school for the duration of a disease outbreak. This decision is usually based on the risk of disease transmission in the facility. The risk of transmission depends on the characteristics of the particular disease and the potential number of susceptible people that could be exposed to the disease.
- Students may have an exemption to one or more vaccines and receive the other vaccinations. In this case a student may have an immunization record and an exemption certificate on file with the school.
Schools send a copy of all exemption certificates to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Immunization Service for approval. In the meantime, the child should be admitted to school. All exemptions are reviewed and approved or disapproved by the Immunization Service. Schools are then notified as to whether or not an exemption has been is approved. When a school receives notification that an exemption has not been approved, the school must notify the parent. The parent must complete and submit another exemption certificate or present an immunization record in order for the child to continue to attend school.
The Oklahoma Immunization Law
Oklahoma's Immunization Act (10.2k.pdf) was passed by the state legislature in 1970. It requires all students to meet immunization requirements before they enter or attend any public or private school in the state. The law states that the Oklahoma State Board of Health will establish the regulations specifying which vaccines and how many doses of each vaccine are required.
The immunization requirements are specified by the State Board of Health. The regulations specify in detail:
- What vaccines are required,
- How many doses of each vaccine are required,
- The minimum intervals of time that are needed between doses and the minimum ages for vaccine doses,
- How parents or guardians can obtain an exemption to a vaccine for their child, and
- What is needed to document immunity to a disease.
The Oklahoma State Board of Health changes the regulations when new vaccines become available and as old vaccines are no longer needed because the diseases have been controlled or eliminated.
Why We Need School Immunization Laws
- Vaccination of school-age children is one of the most important ways we can protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Outbreaks of diseases such as polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and rubella were common occurrences in schools before vaccines were available.
- In 1980 an outbreak of measles in Oklahoma resulted in 775 cases of measles and one death. The majority of the measles cases occurred in school-aged children,
- Some children, for medical reasons, such as compromised immune systems, cannot receive all vaccines. These children must rely on the community to help protect them from exposure to these diseases by community wide vaccination.
- School vaccine requirements ensure that most people are protected through immunization.
- Since contagious diseases spread among susceptible people, vaccination reduces the chance of infection and outbreaks in schools and communities by reducing the number of unprotected people.
- Watch an animation demonstrating herd immunity at this web site: History of Vaccines.
- College students should check with each college, university, or school for information on how to meet the requirements.
Resources for School Nurses
Oklahoma State Department of Health Resources for Schools
- School Health Program (OSDH website)
- Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline (OSDH website)
- Oklahoma Certified Healthy Schools Program (Certified Healthy Oklahoma website)
- Dental Health (OSDH website)
- 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools (OSDH website)
- 2017-18 Kindergarten Survey Results
- 2018-19 Kindergarten Survey Letter
- Instructions For Completing 2018-19 Kindergarten Survey
- Instructions Worksheet for 2018-19 Kindergarten Survey
- Public School Online Directory
- OPSAC List of Accredited Schools for 2018
Frequently Asked Questions
A: Yes, schools should admit children if an exemption form is on file. If an exemption is not approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Health the school will be notified that the exemption is not valid. At that time the school should notify the parents that they must file another exemption form or present an immunization record for the child.
Q: If a child transfers to a new school or childcare facility in Oklahoma and has an exemption on file, do the parents need to fill out a new exemption form?
A: No, as long as the child is transferring between schools or childcare facilities in Oklahoma the child can take the exemption form with them to the new school or childcare facility.
Q: How will the Oklahoma State Department of Health know which schools or childcare facilities have children with exemptions enrolled in case of a disease outbreak that might impact enrollees with exemptions?
A: In the event of a disease outbreak that might impact any school or childcare facility in Oklahoma, a representative of the local county health department or the Oklahoma State Department of Health will contact the school or childcare with instructions on informing the parents if the disease is a risk to any students including those with exemptions.
Q: What is the schedule for older children who have not completed their IPV series?
A: The schedule for polio vaccination for unvaccinated or under-vaccinated older children through age 17 years is 2 doses of IPV separated by 4-8 weeks, and a third dose 6-12 months after the second dose.