FAQs About Immunization Requirements for School Admittance


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Table of Contents:

About Provisional Enrollment

Vaccination Deficiencies

Exemptions

Texas Vaccination Rules



About Provisional Enrollment

What is provisional enrollment?

Provisional enrollment is a component of the rules adopted by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for the minimum immunization requirements for school entry. Provisional enrollment allows a student meeting certain specific criteria to be admitted to school on a temporary basis for up to 30 days. During this 30-day period, the parent is responsible for ensuring that the student receives the necessary vaccine(s) as fast as is medically feasible, and/or providing a complete and current immunization record to the school. Texas schools are also responsible for ensuring that immunization records are sent to requesting Texas schools within the 30-day period.


What specific circumstances must a child fall under to qualify for provisional enrollment?

Provisional enrollment allows a student to enroll in school under the following situations:

1. Transfer Students

Students transferring from one Texas public or private school to another can be enrolled provisionally for no more than 30 days while awaiting the transfer of the immunization record.

2. Homeless Students

Students who are defined as homeless according to the federal McKinney-Vento Act, 42 U.S.C. §11434a can be admitted provisionally for 30 days if acceptable evidence of vaccination is not available. The school shall promptly refer the student to appropriate public health programs to obtain the required vaccinations.

3. Students In-Progress

Students who have received at least one dose of each specified age-appropriate vaccine required by the DSHS rules. To remain enrolled, students must complete the required subsequent doses of each vaccine series on schedule and as rapidly as is medically feasible and provide acceptable evidence of vaccination to the school. A school nurse or school administrator shall review the immunization status of a provisionally enrolled student every 30 days to ensure continued compliance in completing the required doses of vaccination. If, at the end of the 30-day period, a student has not received a subsequent dose of vaccine, the student is not in compliance and the school shall exclude the student from school attendance until the required dose(s) is (are) administered.

4. Military Dependents

A dependent of a person who is on active duty with the armed forces of the United States can be enrolled provisionally for no more than 30 days if he/she transfers from one school to another and is awaiting the transfer of the immunization record.


Can a child without an immunization record be enrolled provisionally if they are not homeless, are not transferring from a Texas school or are not progressing towards obtaining immunizations as fast as is medically feasible?

No. The child must obtain the first doses of the required vaccines and then they can be admitted provisionally as long as they are progressing towards receiving the remaining required vaccines as fast as is medically feasible.


Vaccination Deficiencies

What if a child does not have all his or her shots up-to-date prior to starting school?

The student will be required to receive the necessary vaccinations in order to enroll or start school. If the student has started the series and is on schedule, he or she can enroll provisionally until it is medically feasible to receive the next vaccine dose.


What do parents or guardians need to show as proof that their child has started the vaccine series needed?

Acceptable documentation of immunizations is any record of immunizations validated by a physician or his/her designee, or public health personnel. The record must show the month, day, and year when each immunization was received.


What if the student is more than a year delinquent for a vaccine? Can this student be allowed to attend school provisionally at the beginning of a new school year?

No. If more than the maximum amount of time to receive the next dose has expired, the student cannot attend school until he/she received the required dose.


Where can parents take their children to get the required immunizations?

Parents should contact their children's physician. Alternatively, they can contact their local health department or the nearest DSHS Health Service Regional Office for information.


Exemptions

Is the conscientious exemption for immunizations valid for two years or five years?

The conscientious exemption is valid for two years.


Nurses in our schools want to know if the change to two years, for the conscientious exemption, applies to those students who have already filed an affidavit for the Exemption for Reasons of Conscience or does it apply to new applicants.

The two-year time period applies to new applicants. Those students, who filed an affidavit that was valid for five years, get a five-year exemption.


The child has no immunizations on file. I did receive a faxed copy of a Texas Religious Exemption dated in 1999. Does this child need a new affidavit?

No. Religious exemptions dated prior to September 1, 2003 are life-long exemptions.


Texas Vaccination Rules

What government agency adopts the rules on provisional enrollment?

According to the Texas Attorney General Opinion No. GA-0178, only DSHS (formerly TDH) may adopt rules relating to provisional admission.


Can DSHS adopt rules that would prohibit a student from being admitted into a school?

Yes. Admission to a school is not allowed until records are produced showing (1) that the child has been immunized in accordance with the rules; (2) the child has an exemption from immunization requirements on file with the school in accordance with the rules; or (3) that the child is entitled to provisional enrollment.


For more information about immunization requirements, contact the Immunization Branch at (512) 458-7284 or (800) 252-9152.

Last updated September 20, 2016