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Immunization Requirements for All California K-12 Students

Child and Family Protection Association and HSLDA 6/14/11

California law requires every student, grades K-12, to either be vaccinated against several specified diseases, or have a documented exemption from any or all of the required vaccinations. This requirement applies to all students in every public and private school, including private schools based in the home (i.e., homeschools). This law also requires the administrator of each public or private school to complete the California Immunization Record (form PM 286B - a.k.a. "Blue Card") for each student and keep it up-to-date in order to document the status of each required vaccination. This PM 286B form is required to be filed as a part of the student's official school records (i.e., cumulative file - see Sections 49062 & 49068 of the Education Code).

Additionally, proof of vaccinations provided by the physician's or health clinic's vaccination record must be kept on file in the student's permanent school record (cumulative file), unless exempted. If a student has not received all of the required vaccinations, that student must have either the personal beliefs exemption or the medical exemption documented and on file in their school's student records. These required forms and documentation are not to be mailed or delivered by the school administrator to any entity but are to be filed in the student's records kept by the school of enrollment.

Note to single family private homeschools: You are responsible to obtain and keep vaccination documentation for each student in your home school.

Note to PSP administrators: You are responsible for:

  1. notifying the parents of students of vaccination requirements and the two options for being exempted from vaccination requirements.
  2. obtaining and keeping vaccination documentation for each student in your PSP.

For those students enrolled in PSPs, it will be the school's PSP administrator and not the parent who is responsible for getting the required PM 286B form and the documentation and keeping them up-to-date and filed for every student enrolled in their program.

While not required by the state, it would be a good idea for parents to also have a copy of each of their children's vaccination records in case it is needed when seeking medical attention in certain situations. Parents are entitled to have a copy of items in their child's school records and will likely want a current copy of all documentation of required vaccinations, including the completed PM 286B form, for their child.

Blank PM 286B forms are available from either:
(1) the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) by downloading it for printing (white paper is OK; it doesn't have to be blue) at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/pubsforms/forms/CtrldForms/pm286b.pdf; or from:
(2) your local county health department (You can find a listing of county health department phone numbers via a link on our website at http://www.childandfamilyprotection.org/immunizations.html. Your county health department’s phone number also will be in the county section of your phone book.) When calling, tell them you are a private school administrator from (name of your school) and you need forms for complying with immunization requirements.

The current PM 286B form lists each required vaccination (except for the new Tdap booster requirement - see next paragraph), and provides an affidavit on the back for the purpose of documenting a personal beliefs exemption for a student to be exempted from any or all vaccinations (as determined by the parents). Any medical exemption requires a separately signed document from a physician, which should be filed with the PMB 286B form in the student's school records.

For additional information on vaccinations, including step-by-step instructions in complying with the new Tdap requirement for 7th to 12th graders, please visit our website under "Immunizations": http://www.childandfamilyprotection.org/immunizations.html.

Images of these forms and a sample medical exemption letter can be found on our website: http://www.childandfamilyprotection.org/immunizations.html.

The CDPH maintains a web page with information about these vaccination requirements at www.shotsforschool.org/immunizationlaws.html. This web page contains a link to current California law, which lists the required vaccinations, explains the requirements, and details the means of establishing the personal beliefs exemption and the medical exemption. (Health & Safety Code §120335 enumerates the required vaccinations, §120365 provides for the personal beliefs exemption, and §120370 provides for the medical exemption.)

If you desire, your physician also should be able to tell you what the current vaccination requirements are for any age child, and he or she should be able to help you assess the medical advisability of having your child receive any given vaccination. However, it is the parent's decision, which (if any) of the required vaccinations their children will receive. But regardless of whether or not your school-age child receives the vaccinations, the status of his or her vaccinations is required to be documented on the PM 286B form and filed in the child's official school records.

For information to help you make the important decision whether to have your child(ren) vaccinated with a particular vaccine, we suggest that you utilize the resources in “Vaccinations - Helping or Hurting Kids?

We DO NOT recommend signing up with an Immunization Registry program such as CAIR, which would result in children’s private information being entered into a bureaucratic database vulnerable to being accessed.

For further information on vaccination requirements, go to the California Department of Public Health's "Frequently Asked Tdap Requirement Questions for: Schools and Providers" at www.shotsforschool.org.

If you have questions about complying with these vaccination laws, or any other questions concerning the applicability of California laws to your homeschooling, we strongly recommend that you contact HSLDA at 540-338-5600 (http://www.hslda.org).