Vaccines are an important part of staying healthy. Without receiving vaccines, we would be at a higher risk of catching life-threatening and preventable diseases. For that reason, students should receive a series of vaccines before they can start school.
Each state’s health department decides which vaccines children must receive before starting school or attending certain childcare facilities. It doesn’t matter if you are signing your child up for school for the first time or they are returning for another year of education. They must receive the required vaccination to stay happy, healthy and ready to learn.
Which vaccines are required for Indiana schools?
The Indiana Department of Health determines which vaccines are needed for all accredited public and private schools in the state. For your child to be considered up to date on their vaccines, they must have the required number of doses of each vaccine. Many of the required vaccines are given when your child is an infant. However, if they did not receive these vaccines, or need a booster shot, your child’s medical provider can administer them. Vaccines that are currently required for all grades in Indiana include:
- Hepatitis B
- DTaP or Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
- Hepatitis A
To begin sixth grade, students are required to receive the Tdap booster and the MCV4 (meningococcal meningitis) vaccine.
It is recommended for all students to receive their annual flu shot when it becomes available. Starting at age 11 (fifth or sixth grade), it is also recommended that students receive the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required for the 2021-2022 school year?
No, the Indiana Department of Health has not made the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement for students to attend school for the 2021-2022 school year. However, to prevent the spread of the virus, and to keep your student, family and community safe, it is recommended that children 12 years and older be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can be safely administered to everyone 12 years and older in Indiana at no cost.
Are there exceptions to getting vaccinated in Indiana?
Children who attend an accredited public or private school or daycare program must receive the required vaccines, unless medically or religiously exempt. If your child is exempt, you will need to complete an exemption form and have it on file at your child’s school.
For your child to be medically exempt, you will need to fill out the medical exemption form. Your child’s medical provider will have to certify which vaccinations might be dangerous to your child’s health and must provide a written statement about your child’s medical condition and why they cannot be vaccinated with a specific vaccine. You will need a statement for each vaccine your child is unable to receive. This statement (or statements) must be signed by the provider and delivered to your child’s school.
For your child to be religiously exempt, you will need to fill out the religious exemption form and create a written statement objecting to the vaccine. You must sign the statement and deliver it to your child’s school. A statement of religious exemption must be given at the start of each new school year.
Currently, non-religious personal belief exemptions are not allowed in Indiana. Your child must be vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption on file to attend school.
What happens if my child is not up to date with their vaccines?
It is against Indiana Code for a child who is not up to date with their vaccines to attend an accredited public or private school full-time. Your child may go to school for the first day, but an exemption statement or proof of vaccinations is required for your child to return for the rest of the year, unless:
- Your child’s school gives you a vaccination waiver, typically for 20 days or less,
- Your local state health department or physician has delayed vaccines due to extreme circumstances and provides a written statement and time frame for when your child will receive their vaccines, or
- You have a medical or religious exemption form and statement on file with the school.
What do I need as proof of vaccines when registering my child for school?
When signing your child up for an accredited public or private school, you will need to bring proof of vaccination. You should receive a record card when your child is vaccinated. If you cannot locate your child’s vaccination record, speak with your child’s medical provider, your local health department or visit the Children and Hoosier Immunization Registry Program (CHIRP) website to get a copy.