We have seen a lot of letters coming from public schools that are worded in such a way it makes them scare tactics. They make the reader think they have NO choice in getting all vaccinations on time and on the CDC schedule or the child will not be allowed to attend school.

THIS IS NOT TRUE In Pennsylvania we have a Medical and a Religious exemption that encompasses a moral or ethical belief. These exemptions are under attack in every state. While it is accurate that recent changes have moved the 8 mo. provisional period to a 5 day period in which a family may submit their child’s shot records, or place a valid religious, philosophical, or medical exemption on file, the notion that vaccine compliance with the schedule outlined is required for public school attendance in PA is incorrect by omission, and likely intentionally so in order to intimidate parents.

Pennsylvania law, specifically 28 Pa.Code §23.84, which allows for the medical, religious and conscientious exemptions to immunizations as condition for attendance in public or private school provides as follows:

(a) Medical exemption. Children need not be immunized if a physician or the physician’s designee provides a written statement that immunization may be detrimental to the health of the child. When the physician determines that immunization is no longer detrimental to the health of the child, the child shall be immunized according to this subchapter.

(b) Religious exemption. Children need not be immunized if the parent, guardian or emancipated child objects in writing to the immunization on religious grounds or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.

The Code further describes the responsibilities of school officials regarding the sharing of the information contained in the law:

  • 23.85. Responsibilities of schools and school administrators. The administrator in charge of every school shall appoint a knowledgeable person to perform the following:

(1) Inform the parent, guardian or emancipated child at registration or prior to registration, if possible, of the requirements of this subchapter.

Accordingly, the blanket statements provided are grossly inaccurate and demonstrate that the administrator has failed to appoint a “knowledgeable person.” A child may in fact attend public school in PA without proof of immunization or submission of an immunization plan should one of the two exemption provisions apply, and the school had a duty to more fully and accurately inform parents regarding the requirements of the Code.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health appears to take the same position in the following language which was excluded from the district’s communication:

*Pennsylvania’s school immunization requirements can be found in 28 Pa. CODE CH.23 *

These requirements allow for the following exemptions: Medical Reason Religious Belief Philosophical/strong moral or ethical conviction (emphasis added).

Below are links to a letter you can fill out and print off. It does NOT need to be notarized. Simply fill it out and print off a few copies. Give one to the school and your doctor or pediatrician as well. This letter may not work for all private schools/day cares.