History of the Minnesota School Immunization Law

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In 1967, the Minnesota Legislature enacted the Minnesota School Immunization Law (Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.15). At that time, many states were encouraged to enact measles requirements as part of a national effort to improve measles control. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, measles was a disease primarily of unvaccinated school-age children. In studies of states without measles immunization requirements, measles incidence rates were from 1.7 to 2.0 higher than states that had school immunization laws.

Minnesota’s School Immunization Law has been amended numerous times to remain consistent with current immunization recommendations and to address gaps identified through enforcement. Specifically, these amendments made the law consistent with recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the U.S. Public Health Service’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Minnesota Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (formerly the Minnesota Immunization Practices Task Force) of the Minnesota Department of Health.

The school law has always allowed exemptions for medical and religious reasons. 

Below is a summary of the various provisions of the law and the year they became effective.

  • Required measles immunization prior to kindergarten.
  • Added rubella for kindergarten and included child care enrollees and nursery schools.
  • Added polio; diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP); and mumps.
  • Changed the religious exemption to “conscientiously held beliefs” of parent/guardian.
  • Expanded law to include all grades, kindergarten through 12 “in order to enroll or remain enrolled.”

  • Set the minimum age for measles immunization at 11 months, 15 days.
  • Increased the minimum age for a child to have received measles vaccine to 12 months.

  • Removed the exemption for mumps immunization for students 7 years of age and older.

  • Removed the exemption for rubella immunization for girls 12 years of age and older.
  • Expanded law to include Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) children.

  • Required that documentation of immunizations administered after 1/1/90 indicate month, day, and year.

  • Required the transfer of immunization information from high school records to a post-secondary educational institution.

  • Enacted the College Immunization Law, Minnesota Statutes, section 135.14. This statute covers all private and public two- and four-year colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions (e.g., private vocational schools).
  • Added the second dose of measles, mumps, and rubella to seventh and 12th grades and by 1996-97 to seventh through 12th grades.

  • Added Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b disease, which is a major cause of meningitis in young children) for children in child care and ECSE.
  • Added tetanus/diphtheria (Td) booster for seventh and 12th grades, and by 1998-99 for seventh through 12th grades.
  • Added language to give elementary and secondary schools the flexibility to grant temporary exemptions of up to 30 days for transfer students.

  • Added an exemption of up to five days for children placed in a crisis nursery.
  • Added hepatitis B for kindergarten.
  • Expanded hepatitis B for seventh grade.

  • Required all post-secondary educational institutions to provide information on the transmission, treatment, and prevention of hepatitis A, B, and C to all persons who are first-time enrollees.
  • Shortened the grace period that school-age children can complete a required vaccine series from 18 to 8 months.

  • Allowed vaccine doses administered four or fewer days before the minimum age required in law to be considered valid.

  • Modified the requirement for hepatitis B so that a hepatitis B vaccine licensed for an alternate dosing schedule is valid for purposes of the hepatitis B vaccination requirement. This change made both the three-dose and two-dose vaccine acceptable.

  • Required all child care facilities and elementary and secondary schools to use the official Minnesota Department of Health record form or a similar document approved by the department when documenting a student’s immunization history.

  • Required post-secondary educational institutions to provide information on the risk of meningococcal disease and the availability of an effective vaccine to each individual who is a first-time enrollee and resides in on-campus housing.
  • Added chickenpox (varicella) to kindergarten and seventh grade. When the law went into effect in 2004, only one dose was required. However, in 2006, the recommendation went from one to two doses. The school law was changed to requiring two doses in fall 2009. (MDH delayed implementation due to a vaccine shortage.)
  • Added pneumococcal conjugate for child-care enrollees who are 2 months or older but less than 24 months.

  • Required the second dose of measles, mumps, and rubella to kindergarten.

  • Eliminated the second dose of measles, mumps, and rubella for seventh through 12th grades after the 2011-2012 school year.
  • Modified required documentation for history of varicella disease. As of September 1, 2010, a parent’s signature would no longer be accepted to verify varicella disease, only a provider’s signature is valid.

Updated Wednesday, 06-Apr-2011 09:16:01 CDT