Barbara Loe Fisher
- Vaccines, homeschool and public school
Barbara Loe Fisher
I have a question concerning my 18-month-old son. He hasn't had any vaccines and his doctor says that she is fine with that. As of now, I plan on homeschooling my son. I was wondering: if I were to change my mind and send him to school and got the current shots on the vaccine schedule at that time, would he be able to attend school or would they deny him because he didn't get the vaccines as a baby? Thanks so much.
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The short answer is that, no, there is no current penalty upon school entry for not getting your child vaccinated as a baby. But here is a longer answer that fills in the blanks:
When making an informed vaccination decision, you should (1) be fully aware of the risks and complications of the diseases and vaccines; (2) speak with one or more trusted health care professionals; and (3) understand the laws of your state before taking action.
Because vaccine laws are state laws, the numbers of doses of different vaccines that children are required to get to go to school can vary from state to state. You should also know that, in some states, public health law language applies to all children who are residents of the state instead of attaching vaccine requirements only to school entry.
At the present time, homeschooled children in most states have not been compelled to get vaccinated. This may change in the future as there are calls by some doctors and public health proponents to require homeschooled children to obey the same state vaccine laws that apply to children who attend daycare and public or private schools.
When you have made the decision to send your child to a school, you should obtain a copy of your state vaccine laws and the regulations of the public or private school your child will attend. All states have provisions for a medical exemption to vaccination written by an MD or DO. All but two states (West Virginia and Mississippi) allow religious exemption to vaccination. About 18 states allow a personal belief, philosophical, or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination.
If you decide to give your child all of the state-required vaccines in order to attend school, read the vaccine requirements carefully. Depending upon how old your child is, you may be able to give fewer doses of a particular vaccine (such as polio or Hib) and will not be required to give other vaccines for which your child is too old (like rotavirus). In a few states, vaccine laws also allow your child to get a blood titer test, proving your child has recovered from certain diseases (such as measles or chickenpox) and has enough antibodies that vaccination is not required for those diseases.
If you do not want to give your child all of the government-recommended vaccines (66 doses of 15 vaccines for boys from birth