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Massachusetts law about vaccination & immunization

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

Table of Contents


COVID-19 vaccination program,
View the latest updates about COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts including the vaccination timeline, frequently asked questions, and vaccine authorization materials.

Employers can require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
It is now clear under federal employment law that employers can require workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccination. Employers have the legal right to mandate that their employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination, according to guidance released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Dec. 16, 2020. (Scroll down to section K. “Vaccinations”)

Vaccines for COVID-19, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Information on different vaccines, getting a vaccine, possible side effects, professional resources, and more.

Best bet

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.

Additional Resources

Massachusetts laws

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

Federal laws

42 USC §§ 300aa-1 - 300aa-6 National vaccine program
42 USC §§ 300aa-10 - 300aa-34 National vaccine injury compensation program

Federal regulations

42 CFR §§ 100.1 - 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 (2002)
G.L. c. 76 §15C requires students in a health science program who come in contact with patients to be immunized against various communicable diseases. Here, the court construes the language in that statute that exempts students 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. 


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

English - MIIS Objection (or Withdrawal of Objection) Form, Dept. of Public Health.
To object to sharing your immunization information with healthcare providers other than the provider who administered your immunization(s).

Note: There is no vaccination exemption form. As provided on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts School Immunizations web page, medical exemptions come from the student’s doctor and document a contraindication — the reason why an individual cannot medically receive the vaccine. Religious exemptions come from the parent/guardian, and state in writing that a vaccine conflicts with his/her sincerely held religious belief.

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."

Explaining HIPAA: No, it doesn’t ban questions about your vaccination status,” Washington Post, May 22, 2021. 

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)

School immunizations, School health services.
School immunization requirements exist to protect students and members of their community from serious vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring high vaccination rates.

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.

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

Print sources

Municipal law and practice, 5th ed. (Mass practice v. 18A), West, 2006 with supplement.
Chapter 19, Public Health, section 19.3. Vaccinations and vaccines

Vaccine, vaccination, and immunization law, by Brian Abramson. The Bureau of National Affairs, 2018.



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: July 23, 2021