Immunization Laws

Exemptions to Immunization Requirements

The exemptions permitted by California law are:

  • Medical Exemption
    A licensed physician (MD or DO) who feels a vaccine is not indicated for a student because of medical reasons should submit to the school (via the patient’s family as needed) a written statement documenting the medical exemption.  The school will place a copy of the completed statement in the student’s file.
  • Personal Beliefs Exemption
    A parent or guardian may have a child exempted from required immunizations if immunization is contrary to his/her beliefs. Schools have standardized procedures for parents and guardians who request a personal beliefs exemption.

Exemptions to immunization should not be taken because of convenience. Unimmunized students are at greater risk of contracting diseases and spreading them to their families, schools and communities. Schools should maintain an up-to-date list of students with exemptions, so that these students can be excluded from school quickly if an outbreak occurs.

New Documentation Requirement for Personal Belief Exemptions

Starting in 2014, a new California law will modify the process for obtaining exemptions to student immunizations based on personal beliefs. Assembly Bill (AB) 2109 requires documentation that health care practitioners have informed parents about vaccines and diseases.

Immunization Requirements

Under the California School Immunization Law (California Health and Safety Code, Sections 120325-120375), children are required to receive certain immunizations in order to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools, child care centers, family day care homes, nursery schools, day nurseries and developmental centers.

The California School Immunization Law also requires schools, child care centers, and family child care homes to enforce immunization requirements, maintain immunization records of all children enrolled, and submit reports to the local health department.

The California Code of Regulations provide specific instructions for the public, health care providers, school governing authorities, and local health departments. Regulations are being updated to incorporate the new Tdap requirement.

Regulations for California school immunization requirements are in Title 17 Division 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter 8.

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) ensures that agency regulations are clear, necessary, legally valid, and available to the public. OAL is responsible for reviewing administrative regulations proposed by over 200 state agencies for compliance with the standards set forth in California's Administrative Procedure Act (APA), for transmitting these regulations to the Secretary of State and for publishing regulations in the California Code of Regulations. www.oal.ca.gov.

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