Each year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) conducts a survey of immunization rates in all child care programs and public and private schools in the state. The purpose of this survey is to ensure that all children enrolled in these facilities are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Resources for School Nurses
- For school nurses and others looking to review and interpret a child’s immunization schedule, the CDC provides guidance on the Recommended and Minimum Ages and Intervals Between Doses. Minimum ages and intervals apply for MMR, polio, and varicella vaccine school requirements. Nurses can also use our Combination Vaccines Flyer (DOC) and the list of ACIP Vaccine Abbreviations to help interpret immunization records.
- In the event of a case of vaccine-preventable disease in a school or childcare setting, students that do not meet school requirements may be subject to exclusion. The Vaccine Preventable Disease Exclusion Guidelines in School Settings (DOC) outlines exclusion criteria for specific vaccine-preventable diseases.
- School nurses are reminded that immunization requirements apply to all students, including exchange or visiting students from other countries. MDPH circulated a letter, Immunization Requirements and Visiting Students (DOC) reinforcing this requirement.
- Immunization records must be maintained for all students in the state. The Immunization Requirements for School Entry outline requirements for children two years of age and older, while the Preschool/Childcare Requirements Summary (DOC) outlines immunization requirements for children younger than age 2. Programs that are licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) must comply with EEC regulations regarding child and staff immunizations. A summary of these requirements is found in this document Preschool/Childcare Regulation Summary.
- Schools that have different levels of preschool or pre-kindergarten occasionally have questions about what requirements their students should be meeting. The MDPH has written a letter with a Clarification of Immunization Requirements for K0, K1 and K2 (DOC) that can be used to determine the immunization requirements for each class.
- Meningococcal vaccine is required in certain settings, including students attending college or a residential secondary school. More information on meningococcal disease and vaccination can be found at: Meningococcal Disease Vaccination and Information Requirements for Schools and Academic Institutions.
- Schools and early education providers are required to distribute to parents information regarding the benefits of annual influenza vaccination for children 6 months to 18 years of age. The Flu Awareness Cover Letter outlines the legislation around this requirement and provides resources for schools. Circulation of the MDPH document The Flu: A Guide for Parents (DOC) meets this distribution requirement. The flu guide is also available in Spanish (La gripe: Guía para padres (Spanish version) (DOC) and Portuguese (Gripe: um guia para os pais (Portuguese version) (DOC).