2011-2012 Texas Vaccine Exemption
The state of Texas in law grants and
acknowledges the right of parents to exempt their children from vaccination
requirements for day care, school, and college for reasons of conscience
including a religious belief or for medical reasons. In 2003, the Texas
legislature passed changes to the statutes expanding the reasons a parent can
claim an exemption but the Health Department has questionably also increased the
bureaucratic red tape necessary for claiming the exemption. There are
specific procedures for requesting an official state form and submitting it to
the school or for completing a medical exemption that all take some time so
please don't wait until the last minute to get your papers in order.
For everyone claiming an exemption
for the first time after 9/1/03, you must comply with the new law. If you've
submitted an old religious exemption prior to 9/1/03, you are grandfathered under
the old law (see notes below) and do not need a new form. The vaccine exemption forms for reasons of
conscience including a religious belief are only for students
claiming a vaccine exemption for the first time after 9/1/03 when the new
law went into effect. If you need to request forms from the state health
department, you can do it by fax, mail, personal visit, or through an online submission form. If you send your request by
mail, we suggest sending it registered mail with a receipt so you can keep track
of your request. If you send it by fax, set your fax machine to print out a
delivery receipt. We would like to keep track of the Health Department's
According to the Texas Dept. of State Health Services
Online requests must be made through the web submission form posted at
Written requests must be submitted through the U.S.
Postal Service, commercial carrier, fax at (512)-776-7544 , or by hand-delivery
DSHS Immunization Branch
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756
Hand-delivered requests may be submitted to the DSHS, Immunization Branch,
between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. ALL affidavit forms will
be mailed to you via U.S. Postal Service. No requests will be filled at the
time of hand-delivery.
Affidavit form requests will be processed and mailed
within one week from the receipt of the request. If additional information is
needed in order to process the affidavit, you will be notified;
The letter must include the following information:
- Full name of each child for whom a form is requested(first, middle, and last);
- Date of birth of each child for whom a form is
- Parent or legal guardian's complete return mailing
address, including zip code;
- Number of forms needed for each child (not to exceed
five forms per child)
Electronic mail or telephone requests will not be
The official Texas Department of State Health Services affidavit form
must be notarized and submitted to school officials. The form must be
submitted within 90 days from the date it is notarized.
The school will accept only official affidavit forms
developed and issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS),
Immunization Branch. No other forms or reproductions will be allowed.
IT IS OUR OPINION THAT PARENTS SHOULD OBTAIN A WRITTEN
NOTE FROM THE SCHOOL ACKNOWLEDGING RECEIPT OF THE EXEMPTION FORM.
IF THE SCHOOL LOOSES THE FORM THEY CAN KICK YOUR KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL. IF YOU HAVE
A WRITTEN RECEIPT FROM THE SCHOOL THAT YOU SUBMITTED THE FORM,
YOU CAN PUT THE RESPONSIBILITY BACK ON THE SCHOOL TO
GO FIND IT AND KEEP YOUR CHILD IN SCHOOL. One way to accomplish this would be to photocopy the notarized form before you submit it for the first time and ask the nurse or someone in the office to sign the photocopy and date it with next to a statement that says "I acknowledge that the original of this form was submitted to (name of school) on (date)."
It is also our opinion that the department is outside of
the law requiring that parents submit their children's names to get a form
especially since the law required the department to develop a blank form. They
are also exceeding their authority in the statute by putting 2 year expirations
on the new forms as the statute specifies no expiration.
If you would like to volunteer to help get the law further changed to prevent this behavior, please contact us through our website. Until this is changed legislatively,
these are the procedures
the DSHS has set up. It would be great if you could go to the home page of this web site and look up your state representative and senator and let them know that these arbitrary expirations placed by the health department on your exemption are harassment and need to be stopped.
Ignorant school officials around the state have denied
kids admission to school if they have an old religious exemption affidavit
saying they need one of the new forms from the health department. THIS IS NOT
TRUE! If you hear this is happening in your district, please call the
superintendent's office and give them this link to the state health department
where it clearly says you don't need a new form. Also, when you transfer
schools, the old religious exemption letter is still part of your child's record
and you do not need a new one as long as it was part of your
child's record prior to 9/1/03.
On the bottom of page 2, it says:
Q. If a child currently has a religious exemption for
vaccinations onfile with the school, do they need
to obtain a new vaccineexemption for reasons of
A. No. Students who had religious exemptions filed at the school prior to September 1, 2003 do not need a new vaccine exemption affidavit
form. The religious exemption on file remains valid.
Also on page 2 it says:
Q. What if my child changes schools?
A. The vaccine exemption affidavit is part of the
child's school records and should be sent to the new schoolwith other school records.
Additionally, some schools, daycare
facilities and colleges are saying they don't have to accept the exemption.
This is wrong - the law grants parents this right and the schools and daycares
can't take this right away. For your convenience, we've posted links to
the state statutes directly below.
The other option for parents to exempt their child from
state immunization requirements is with a medical exemption written by a
doctor. This is intended for families with children with health concerns or a
past history of reactions. While this option bypasses the bureaucratic red tape
with the conscientious/religious exemption, the pressures on doctors to not
write these are great and it may be difficult to get a doctor who acknowledges a
vaccine reaction to substantiate that in writing by issuing an exemption.
Regardless, most families and physicians are not aware
the exemption statute was greatly expanded to make it much easier
for a doctor to write to protect a child from future reactions. No longer do
they have to say the vaccine would definitively harm the child but that it
instead poses a risk to the child. Any M.D. or D.O. licensed to practice
medicine in the United States can write the letter stating that "in the
physician's opinion, the vaccine required poses a significant risk to the health
and well-being of the child or any member of the child's household." If the
letter also says this is for a lifelong condition, (the condition does not need
to be named) the exemption never has to be renewed. Otherwise it has to be
renewed annually. The doctor just needs to write it out on a piece of paper and
sign it. In this case, you can keep the original and give the school a copy.
Here is a sample medical exemption letter:
Medical Exemption to
In my opinion, the required immunizations pose asignificant risk to the health and well-being of (name of child). This is a lifelong exemption for lifelong
Doctor's name, signature, and date
Regarding the recent requirement that college students get vaccinated for meningitis, the exemption conscientious and medical exemptions apply to this as well. Look at the links below for reference to the laws granting the exemption to the college meningitis vaccine requirement.
Children and Education including Colleges:
Health Care Providers:
State of Texas: