The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Immunization Data
Information for schools on the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as it relates to the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) and immunization data. Updated 7/12
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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Immunization Data (PDF: 35KB/1 page)
The following is the Minnesota Department of Health’s analysis of how FERPA applies to schools disclosing immunization data. This is not legal advice and you should not rely on it as legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer for legal advice.
For years, schools freely shared immunization data with clinics and public health in order to ensure children were up to date with their shots. However, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has highlighted how this long-standing practice is not allowable. FERPA basically states that immunization information on individual students cannot be released without parental consent except under certain circumstances.
This is an obstacle to sharing immunization data even though the Minnesota Immunization Data Sharing Law (M.S. §144.3351) allows schools to share data with MIIC. The federal FERPA law preempts the Minnesota Immunization Data Sharing Law.
In order to comply with FERPA, schools must get parental/guardian consent to share immunization data with MIIC. As a result, most schools only have read-only access. This type of access allows them to view student immunization records, but not share new information.
However, there are some schools that submit immunization data to MIIC. These schools obtain parental consent. One of the best times to get consent is during enrollment open houses. Sample school consent language is provided for your convenience: Sample School Consent Language for Sharing Data with MIIC (Word: 30KB/3 pages).
There is a fact sheet about MIIC and schools. You can find instructions for searching for client records in MIIC, printing immunization histories, and using lists in MIIC on the MIIC User Guidance and Training Resources web page. You can also contact your MIIC regional coordinator for assistance.