Frequently Asked Questions on Personal Beliefs Exemptions (AB 2109)

New Law Requirements

1. Starting in 2014, what are the legal requirements for personal beliefs exemptions (PBE) to immunizations required for school or child care?

2. Who may sign the personal beliefs exemption form or other personal beliefs exemption documentation?

3. Who are affected by the new requirements?

4. When did the new law take effect?

5. Where can I review the new law?

Documentation Requirements

6.  Where can I find the new PBE form?

7. A parent requesting a personal beliefs exemption from an immunization required for a student submits a completed official exemption form along with the student’s immunization record to the student’s school district. Is additional documentation required?

8. Does the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form require notarization?

9. Are child care and school staff required to verify the credentials of an authorized health care provider or the family’s religious affiliation in the case of a religious exemption (e.g., name of church or clergyperson)?

10. May a school or child care facility decline to accept a completed PBE form signed by a certain category of authorized health care practitioner?

11. Are children who do not provide documentation of either receipt or exemption to a required immunization for which they are due subject to exclusion from school or child care until the requirement is met?

Existing Documentation 

12. Will children with existing vaccination exemptions on file be required to have a new form?

13. Are transfer students seeking personal beliefs exemptions required to have new exemption documentation?

14. For a child continuing at the same school, does a prior PBE for a specific vaccine expire or have to be renewed?

15. Should the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form be used instead of the Personal Beliefs Affidavit on page 2 of the “California School Immunization Record” (Form 286, aka “Blue Card")?

16. Should the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form be used instead of the “Personal Beliefs Exemption Form for the Tdap 7th grade requirement" (CDPH 8261)?

17. Will there be changes to the California School Immunization Record (Form 286, aka “Blue Card”) used by schools and child care?

 Documentation Timing

18. When may personal beliefs exemption documents be signed?

19. By when must PBE documentation be submitted?

20. A child entering school is required to receive a vaccine. The parents submit a PBE form for that vaccine that is signed more than 6 months before the student’s first day of school. Is the form valid?

 School and Child Care Documentation Recordkeeping

21. May the completed “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form be attached to “California School Immunization Record” (Form 286, aka “Blue Card")?

22. May schools, child care facilities, and others print additional copies of the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form found at www.shotsforschool.org?

23. Does the form have to be printed on blue paper?

24. Do parents of a child who has received all required immunizations need to file documentation that they have received information about immunizations from an authorized heath care practitioner?

25. If a student has had chicken pox in the past, what documentation does the parent need to provide to get an exemption?

Health Care Practitioner

26. Who may sign the personal beliefs exemption form or other personal beliefs exemption documentation?

27. What is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND)?

28. Do chiropractors meet the definition of an authorized health care practitioner for the personal beliefs exemptions form?

29. Are pharmacists, registered nurses (who are not credentialed school nurses), or other practitioners not on the list of authorized health care practitioners able to sign the personal beliefs exemption form?

30. What will the health care practitioner discuss with the parent or guardian?  Is there a specific educational curriculum that must be used?

31. Are authorized health care practitioners required to assist in requests for exemptions to immunizations?

32. Where can I find additional information about recommended immunizations and vaccine-preventable diseases?

33. Does the law specify the method by which a health care practitioner may communicate the required immunization information to parents?

Religious Exemptions

34. Are exemptions for religious reasons allowed?

Transitional Kindergarten

35. Where can I find information about requirements for transitional kindergarten?

 

New Law Requirements

1. Starting in 2014, what are the legal requirements for personal beliefs exemptions (PBE) to immunizations required for school or child care?

Effective January 1, 2014, 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 one-page form developed by the California Department of Public Health, which must be used and contains the following requirements:
    • An affidavit or letter 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.
  • Most children with exemptions have received some of their 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.

 

2. Who may sign the personal beliefs exemption form or other personal beliefs exemption documentation?

The following types of health care practitioners are authorized by law to sign personal beliefs exemption documentation if they are licensed or credentialed in California:

  • Medical Doctor (MD)
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
  • Nurse practitioner (NP) authorized to furnish drugs
  • Physician assistant (PA) authorized to administer or provide medication
  • Naturopathic doctor authorized to furnish or order drugs under a physician and surgeon’s supervision
  • Credentialed school nurse (a Preliminary or Clear credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing).

The parent, legal guardian, or emancipated minor must also sign the documentation required to obtain a personal beliefs exemption.

 

3. Who are affected by the new requirements?

  • All students newly admitted to a California school (kindergarten through 12th grade [K-12]), students advancing to 7th grade, and children newly admitted to a child care facility. These requirements also apply to newly-admitted international students, exchange students and military dependents.
  • All public and private schools and child care facilities, including charter schools and alternative school settings.

4. When did the new law take effect?

January 1, 2014.

5. Where can I review the new law?

AB 2109 (Pan), Chapter 821, Statutes of 2012, amending Health & Safety Code, Section 120365.
 

Documentation Requirements

6. Where can I find the new PBE form?

The one-page form is available at http://www.shotsforschool.org/ and from many schools and health care practitioners.

7. A parent requesting a personal beliefs exemption from an immunization required for a student submits a completed official exemption form along with the student’s immunization record to the student’s school district. Is additional documentation required?

No. A properly completed form and the immunization record are usually sufficient to meet legal requirements.

8. Does the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form require notarization?

No, the form does not need to be notarized.

9. Are child care and school staff required to verify the credentials of an authorized health care provider or the family’s religious affiliation in the case of a religious exemption (e.g., name of church or clergyperson)?

 No.

 10. May a school or child care facility decline to accept a completed PBE form signed by a certain category of authorized health care practitioner?

 No, a school or child care facility must accept a properly completed form.

11. Are children who do not provide documentation of either receipt or exemption to a required immunization for which they are due subject to exclusion from school or child care until the requirement is met?

Yes.

 Existing Documentation

12. Will children with existing vaccination exemptions on file be required to have a new form?

Usually not, unless the children are subject to a new immunization requirement. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Students advancing into 7th grade whose parents want a PBE from the Tdap requirement would submit a PBE form signed within 6 months prior to the first day of 7th grade.  Existing PBE documentation for other, previous immunization requirements is still valid.
  • A toddler in child care who is newly subject to the MMR requirement and whose parents want a PBE from the MMR requirement would need the PBE form signed within 6 months prior to the toddler turning 15 months old and submitted prior to the first day the new immunization requirement takes effect.

13. Are transfer students seeking personal beliefs exemptions required to have new exemption documentation?

Parents of children transferring from one grade school in California to another school in California do not need to file new forms if their exemptions from the prior schools are part of the records being transferred to the new schools. If PBE documentation is not available, then the parents must use the new PBE process.

Parents of children transferring from out-of-state into California seeking PBEs must use the new PBE process.

14. For a child continuing at the same school, does a prior PBE for a specific vaccine expire or have to be renewed?

No. A PBE for a prior requirement does not expire or have to be renewed. For information about transfer students, see question #13.

15. Should the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form be used instead of the Personal Beliefs Affidavit on page 2 of the “California School Immunization Record” (Form 286, aka “Blue Card")?

Yes. In 2014 and future years, the California School Immunization Record (Form 286) should no longer be used to request an exemption.

16. Should the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form be used instead of the “Personal Beliefs Exemption Form for the Tdap 7th grade requirement" (CDPH 8261)?

Yes. In 2014 and future years, the Personal Beliefs Exemption Form for the Tdap 7th grade requirement (CDPH 8261) should no longer be used to request an exemption.

17. Will there be changes to the California School Immunization Record (Form 286, aka “Blue Card”) used by schools and child care? 

The Blue Card should no longer be used to request a personal beliefs exemption to a required immunization. Please visit www.shotsforschool.org for updates on proposed modifications to the Blue Card to reflect the new process for requesting personal beliefs exemptions to required immunizations.

 

Documentation Timing

18. When may personal beliefs exemption documents be signed?

The personal beliefs exemption documentation  (Sections A. and B.I. of the CDPH 8262 form) must be signed no sooner than six months before a student is admitted to a child care facility or K-12, or before advancing to 7th grade. For example, if school begins on September 1, the documentation could be signed on or after March 1 but not before. The date of admission or advancement is the first day of attendance at the school or child care, not the day of registration.

19. By when must PBE documentation be submitted?

The PBE form and documentation of any required immunizations received by the student must be submitted to a school or child care facility prior to the first day of entry.

The “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form must be signed within 6 months prior to when a student is subject to a new immunization requirement.

There is no grace period for submitting PBE documentation.

20. A child entering school is required to receive a vaccine. The parents submit a PBE form for that vaccine that is signed more than 6 months before the student’s first day of school. Is the form valid?

No. The parent and authorized health care practitioner may sign Sections A. and B.I. of the CDPH 8262 form no earlier than six months before the first day of school

 

School and Child Care Documentation Recordkeeping 

21. May the completed “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form be attached to “California School Immunization Record” (Form 286, aka “Blue Card")?

School staff may attach the two forms, but this is not required.

22. May schools, child care facilities, and others print additional copies of the “Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunization” (CDPH 8262) form found at www.shotsforschool.org?

Yes, schools, child care facilities, health care practitioners and others may print additional copies.

23. Does the form have to be printed on blue paper?

No. Schools, child care facilities, and others may print the form on light blue paper to help match it with other immunization forms, but the form, wherever printed, is not required to be on blue paper.

24. Do parents of a child who has received all required immunizations need to file documentation that they have received information about immunizations from an authorized heath care practitioner?

No, only parents requesting personal beliefs exemptions must provide such documentation.

25. If a student has had chicken pox in the past, what documentation does the parent need to provide to get an exemption?  

A written statement from a physician is required for the student to be exempted for medical reasons. A documented history from a physician of chickenpox disease would be required in this situation.

 

 Health Care Practitioner

26. Who may sign the personal beliefs exemption form or other personal beliefs exemption documentation?

The following types of health care practitioners are authorized by law to sign personal beliefs exemption documentation if they are licensed or credentialed in California:

  • Medical Doctor (MD)
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
  • Nurse practitioner (NP) authorized to furnish drugs
  • Physician assistant (PA) authorized to administer or provide medication
  • Naturopathic doctor authorized to furnish or order drugs under a physician and surgeon’s supervision
  • Credentialed school nurse (a Preliminary or Clear credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing).

The parent, legal guardian, or emancipated minor must also sign the documentation required to obtain a personal beliefs exemption.

27. What is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND)?

A Naturopathic Doctor is a distinct category of health care practitioner.  Naturopathic doctors must meet specific criteria to be licensed in California, including graduating from an approved naturopathic medical school and passing a board examination. Some, but not all licensed naturopathic doctors, are authorized to furnish or order drugs under a licensed physician and surgeon’s supervision. For additional information about naturopathic doctors, please see: http://www.naturopathic.ca.gov/.

28. Do chiropractors meet the definition of an authorized health care practitioner for the personal beliefs exemptions form?

 No, unless they have also met the separate, additional qualifications of one of the categories of authorized health care practitioner [see question #26], they are not authorized health care practitioners.

29. Are pharmacists, registered nurses (who are not credentialed school nurses), or other practitioners not on the list of authorized health care practitioners able to sign the personal beliefs exemption form?

No, unless they have also met the separate, additional qualifications of one of the categories of authorized health care practitioner [see question #26], they are not authorized health care practitioners.

30. What will the health care practitioner discuss with the parent or guardian?  Is there a specific educational curriculum that must be used?

The health care practitioner should provide information about the:

  • Benefits and risks of required immunizations.
  • Health risks of the specific vaccine-preventable diseases to the child and the community.

 There is no specific educational curriculum that must be used. Health care practitioners often personalize their discussions to the specific questions and needs of each patient or family. CDPH has compiled materials that may be helpful in informing parents and guardians about immunizations and vaccine-preventable diseases.

In addition to California law, Federal law requires that healthcare staff provide standardized Vaccine Information Statements to parents and guardians before immunizations are administered. These statements also contain information about immunizations and the diseases they prevent.

31. Are authorized health care practitioners required to assist in requests for exemptions to immunizations?

Any authorized health care practitioner may provide information about immunizations and sign the exemption form. However, providers are not required to carry out these tasks. Parents or guardians seeking exemptions should check with practitioners in advance to clarify their policies on assisting with exemption requests.

32. Where can I find additional information about recommended immunizations and vaccine-preventable diseases?

33. Does the law specify the method by which a health care practitioner may communicate the required immunization information to parents?

No. The methods of communication are not specified in the law.  However, the intent of the law is that health care practitioners adequately educate the parent or guardian about the:

  • Benefits and risks of required immunizations.
  • Health risks of the specific vaccine-preventable diseases to the child and the community.

Religious Exemptions

34. Are exemptions for religious reasons allowed?

Yes. A parent or guardian may request an exemption and speak with a health care practitioner regarding immunizations and vaccine preventable diseases. If the family’s religion does not permit members to get medical advice or treatment from a health care practitioner, the parent or guardian does not need to get a signature or information about immunizations from a practitioner but does need to fulfill the other requirements in  the PBE form, including the:

  • student’s demographic information,
  • religious beliefs checkbox (with signature and date within 6 months of new requirement)
  • affidavit section requesting a personal beliefs exemption from required immunizations (with signature and date).

 The parent must also provide the school or child care with a record of all required immunizations the student has received.

Transitional Kindergarten

35. Where can I find information about requirements for transitional kindergarten?

Click on this link for additional information on transitional kindergarten.