According to Iowa law, parents must be permitted to submit a religious or medical exemption for their child to attend school and/or daycare centers if their child is not fully up-to-date on their vaccinations.
There are many reasons, including religious and medical, that may cause parents to decide not to follow the recommended CDC childhood vaccination schedule. Unfortunately, many parents do not know that getting an exemption is an option for their child(ren).
Some of the confusion could be due to Iowa school personnel sending contradictory and deceptive back-to-school information to parents about vaccination requirements for school attendance.
Many schools are printing reminders in the newspaper, posting on social media, or sending emails about kindergarten roundup that may include statements like the one below:
“ATTENTION PARENTS: If you have a student who will be enrolling in Kindergarten, please contact your health care provider or county public health department to schedule an appointment for the required vaccinations if you have not already done so.
Kindergartners MUST HAVE a kindergarten physical to include a lead test, a dental exam, an eye exam, and the required vaccinations…”
If you receive any notification from your school stating vaccinations are required, that simply isn’t true since Iowa law allows for medical and religious exemptions. There are forms for both types of exemptions.
These exemption forms can be found on the exemptions page on the Informed Choice Iowa website. You do not need verification from your pastor/minister/priest to submit a religious exemption form. This exemption is based solely on your personal belief. A medical exemption must be obtained from a licensed doctor or medical practioner.
So what should you do if you are told vaccinations are required?
First, email your school nurse and the administration and reference Iowa Code, Chapter 139a.8(6) and Iowa Administrative Code, 641-7.7(139) as those sections outline the immunization requirement for Iowa children attending licensed childcare centers and/or elementary or secondary schools. Students shall submit one of the following: Iowa Department of Public Health Certificate of Immunization, Certificate of Immunization Exemption – Religious Exemption, or Certificate of Immunization Exemption – Medical Exemption.
Even if your school accepts your child’s exemption form it is still a good idea to contact the school administration and your school board to educate them on the law and let them know the communication being sent out by school personnel is misleading, confusing, and not a completely truthful representation of Iowa code.