The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Immunization Data
This page contains information for schools about the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as it relates to the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) and immunization data. MIIC is Minnesota's statewide immunization information system.
Disclaimer of legal advice: The following is the Minnesota Department of Health's analysis of how FERPA applies to schools disclosing immunization data as of Jan. 2016. This is not legal advice and you should not rely on it as legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer for legal advice.
Can schools legally share immunization data?
For years, schools freely shared immunization data with clinics and public health in order to ensure children were up to date with their vaccines. However, according to our analysis, FERPA highlights how this long-standing practice is not allowable. FERPA says that immunization information on individual students cannot be released without parental consent except under certain circumstances.
This is an obstacle to sharing immunization data. The Minnesota Immunization Data Sharing Law (M.S. §144.3351) allows schools to share data with MIIC, but the federal FERPA law preempts the Minnesota Immunization Data Sharing Law.
How can schools comply with FERPA?
In order to comply with FERPA, schools must get parental/guardian consent to share immunization data with MIIC. As a result, many schools choose to have read-only access to MIIC. 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).
You can use these templates as a starting place and discuss them with your attorney. If you decide to obtain parental consent, you may be able to incorporate the MIIC consent language into other health- or consent-related forms.
Where can I find more resources?
For more information see MIIC and Schools. You can also find instructions on how to use various MIIC features on the MIIC User Guidance and Training Resources web page.