Guide Massachusetts law about vaccination & immunization

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on vaccination and immunization law.

Best bets

Vaccines and Immunizations, U. S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 
Contraindications and precautions, immunization schedules, common questions, vaccine information statements (benefits, risks and side effects) in English and Spanish, vaccines for travelers, and publications including Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, "the Pink Book," a comprehensive guide. Videos, webcasts, podcasts, links to additional resources.

Immunization program, Mass. Dept. of Health & Human Services
Mass. and U.S. guidelines and schedules for children and adults, current school immunization requirements, vaccine safety and management and more.

Travelers Health, Centers for Disease Control
All aspects of international travel health information including vaccinations (routine, recommended and required), precautions, diseases related to travel, and access to the Yellow Book, a comprehensive reference.

Massachusetts laws

MGL ch 76 sec. 15 Vaccination and immunization of students
MGL ch 76 sec 15C Immunization of college health science students
MGL ch 76 sec 15D Immunization of college students for meningococcal disease
MGL ch 111 sec 6 Power to define diseases deemed dangerous to public health; control and prevention
MGL ch 111 sec 24M Mass. Immunization Information System, a computerized registry
MGL ch 111 sec. 181 Enforcement of vaccination of inhabitants of towns
MGL ch 111 sec 182 Vaccination of inmates and employees of various institutions
MGL ch 111 sec 183 Exemptions to sections 181 and 182
MGL ch 112 sec. 12C Immunity of physician or nurse administering immunization from liability

Massachusetts regulations

105 CMR 220  Immunization of students before admission to school

105 CMR 222  Massachusetts Immunization Information System

105 CMR 430.152 Required immunizations for campers and staff.
Important: See also Memo to Camp Directors recommending camps follow school requirements, above.

Federal laws

42 USC 300aa-1 through 300aa-6 National Vaccine Program
42 USC 300aa-10 through 300aa-34 National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Federal regulations

42 CFR 100.1 through 100.3 Vaccine Injury Compensation

Selected case law

Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 US 11 (1905) 
Jacobson challenged mandatory smallpox vaccination as an unreasonable invasion of his liberty. The Mass. Supreme Court held that the vaccination program was constitutional. The U. S. Supreme Court affirmed, ruling that the program had a real or substantial relation to the protection of the public health and safety. Legal precedent for U.S. compulsory vaccination laws.

Morin v. MGH Institute of Health Professionals and Partners Healthcare System, Inc. (Mass. Super.), 15 Mass. Law Rptr. 417 (1990)
In regard to G.L. c. 76 §15C, Morin claims the exemption on the basis of religious beliefs.

Robinson v. Children's Hospital Boston, U.S. Dist. Ct., Mass., April 5, 2016.
A hospital employee was not entitled to a religious exemption from a requirement for all employees who worked with patients to get a flu shot. The court held that the hospital had given the employee reasonable accommodation, and that the exemption would cause an undue hardship for the hospital. 


MIIS Objection (or Withdrawal of Objection) Form, Dept. of Public Health.
To opt out of the computerized registry or to opt back in.

Adverse reaction reporting form, Federal Vaccine Adverse Reaction Reporting System. 
To report significant adverse events that occurred after vaccination of adult or child.

Web resources

Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2011. 
"Overall, the committee concludes that few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines."

FALQ: Vaccination Law in the United States, Law Library of Congress, February 2015. 
Provides links to Federal, State and Local laws on vaccination, with explanations and annotations.

Immunizations Policy Issues Overview, National Conference of State Legislatures.
Links to information about states school requirements, vaccine safety, immunization registries, and more.

Responding to the childhood vaccination crisis: legal frameworks and tools in the context of parental vaccine refusal, 63 Buff. L. Rev 881, 2015. (updated 2016)

Vindicating the vaccine: injecting strength into mandatory school vaccination requirements to safeguard the public health, 57 B.C.Law Review 261, January 2016.

Municipal law and practice, Mass Practice v. 18A, ch. 19, Public Health, section 19.3.

More information

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Last update: February 22, 2018


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