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Vaccines for School

This section provides information for parents, school administrators and staff, and health care professionals, on immunization requirements for school attendance in Oklahoma.  This section also provides information on lesson plans for vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines.

For Parents

For College Students 

For Schools

Parents - How to Meet the School Requirements

Take one or more of the following to the school: 

  • A record of your child's vaccinations, 
  • A record showing your child is in the process of receiving the required vaccines: 
    • Student's must complete the vaccines on schedule, 
    • Obtain a schedule to complete the vaccines from your doctor or clinic and give a copy to the school, 
  • Documentation showing the student is immune from having had the disease or diseases: 
  • Apply for an exemption. 
    • Obtain an exemption certificate from the school. If your child's school does not have an exemption certificate, the school should call the Immunization Service at 1-800 234-6196 or (405) 271-4073  to order a supply.
    • Complete the exemption certificate and return it to the school.  Please note: Exemption certificates that are not properly completed or have missing information will not be approved and will be returned to the school for the parent to correct or complete.
    • County health departments and private doctors do not have exemption certificates.  
    • Parents are not required nor should they come to the Oklahoma State Department of Health to obtain an exemption certificate. 
  • Oklahoma law allows exemptions for medical, religious or personal reasons. 
  • There is no legal penalty for parents or guardians who obtain exemptions for these reasons. However, unvaccinated children are at greater risk of catching the diseases and might be excluded from school for the duration of a disease outbreak if one occurs. 
  • In the case of a disease outbreak in a school, representatives of the Oklahoma State Department of Health or local health department will visit the school, thoroughly review student immunization records, and make recommendations to the Commissioner of Health on whether or not students with exemptions should be excluded from school or school functions for the duration of the outbreak.
  • The Commissioner of Health has the authority to exclude students with exemptions from school for the duration of a disease outbreak. This decision is usually based on the risk of disease transmission in the facility. The risk of transmission depends on the characteristics of the particular disease and the potential number of susceptible people that could be exposed to the disease.
  • Students may have an exemption to one or more vaccines and receive the other vaccinations.  In this case a student may have an immunization record and an exemption certificate on file with the school. 

Schools send a copy of all exemption certificates to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Immunization Service for approval.  In the meantime, the child shoud be admitted to school.  All exemptions are reviewed and approved or disapproved by the Immunization Service.  Schools are then notified as to whether or not an exemption has been is approved.  When  a school receives notification that an exemption has not been approved, the school must notify the parent.  The parent must complete and submit another exemption certificate or present an immunization record in order for the child to continue to attend school.

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The Oklahoma Immunization Law

Oklahoma's Immunization Act (10.2k.pdf) was passed by the state legislature in 1970.  It requires all students to meet immunization requirements before they enter or attend any public or private school in the state. The law states that the Oklahoma State Board of Health will establish the regulations specifying which vaccines and how many doses of each vaccine are required.

The current immunization requirements  as speciified by the State Board of Health are the: Oklahoma Immunization Regulations (24k.pdf). 
The regulations specify in detail:

  • What vaccines are required,
  • How many doses of each vaccine are required,
  • The minimum intervals of time that are needed between doses and the minimum ages for vaccine doses,
  • How parents or guardians can obtain an exemption to a vaccine for their child, and
  • What is needed to document immunity to a disease.

The Oklahoma State Board of Health changes the regulations when new vaccines become available and as old vaccines are no longer needed because the diseases have been controlled or eliminated. 

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Why We Need School Immunization Laws

  • Vaccination of school-age children is one of the most important ways we can protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Outbreaks of diseases such as polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and rubella were common occurrences in schools before vaccines were available.
    • In 1980 an outbreak of measles in Oklahoma resulted in 775 cases of measles and one death. The majority of the measles cases occurred in school-aged children,  
  • Some children, for medical reasons, such as compromised immune systems, cannot receive all vaccines. These children must rely on the community to help protect them from exposure to these diseases by community wide vaccination.
  • School vaccine requirements ensure that most people are protected through immunization.
  • Since contagious diseases spread among susceptible people, vaccination reduces the chance of infection and outbreaks in schools and communities by reducing the number of unprotected people.
  • Watch an animation demonstrating herd immunity at this web site: History of Vaccines.

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College or Post-Secondary Immunization Requirements (7k.pdf)

  • College students should check with each college, university, or school for information on how to meet the requirements.

Resources for School Nurses

Attention Science, Health, History Teachers, and School Nurses

  • Vaccine Learning Module: Educate students about the immune system, vaccines, and the diseases that vaccines prevent; includes lecture notes, activities, a unit test, module evaluation, and additional resources. (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center web site.)
  • The History of Vaccines: Standards-based resources including lesson plans for use in biology and health courses. The content is targeted to high school students but can be adapted for use in middle schools and college settings. (The History of Vaccines web site: A project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia).
  • Illsville: Fight the Disease: Play an immersive game that takes you through the historical development of a society as it fights disease and tries to develop vaccines to protect the population. (The History of Vaccines web site: A project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia).

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Forms and Materials for Schools
Schools may order the following items from the Immunization Service by calling (405) 271-4073 or by sending an e-mail to: immunize@health.ok.gov. Be sure to include the name and shipping address of the school, the quantity desired, and a contact name and telephone number in case we have any questions.

  • Oklahoma Cumulative Health Record (ODH Form No. 216 - Revised 1/00)
  • Certificate of Exemption (ODH Form No. 216-A - Revised 08/12)
  • School Administrator's Guide to Immunizations (2011 Edition) (Publication Number P302)
  • Information for Parents: New Tdap Requirement (2011) (Publication Number P242)
  • Attention 6th Grade Parents Poster (Publication No. P243) Poster to inform parents of requirement for Tdap for 7th grade students

Additional Information for Schools

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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where can parents obtain exemption forms?
A: Parents can obtain exemption forms from schools and childcare facilities.

Q: Can schools admit children before a child's exemption is approved by the State Health department?
A: Yes, schools should admit children if an exemption form is on file. If an exemption is not approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Health the school will be notified that the exemption is not valid. At that time the school should notify the parents that they must file another exemption form or present an immunization record for the child.

Q: If a child transfers to a new school or childcare facility in Oklahoma and has an exemption on file, do the parents need to fill out a new exemption form?
A: No, as long as the child is transferring between schools or childcare facilities in Oklahoma the child can take the exemption form with them to the new school or childcare facility.

Q: How will the Oklahoma State Department of Health know which schools or childcare facilities have children with exemptions enrolled in case of a disease outbreak that might impact enrollees with exemptions?
A: In the event of a disease outbreak that might impact any school or childcare facility in Oklahoma, a representative of the local county health department or the Oklahoma State Department of Health will contact the school or childcare with instructions on informing the parents if the disease is a risk to any students including those with exemptions.


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