Vaccines for School Aged Children and the Maine Law

Information and resources on required vaccines

Required immunizations

Students are required to be protected from diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, and meningococcal meningitis. Healthcare workers may require additional immunizations.

Students are not required to be protected against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Haemophilus Influenza B (HiB), Rotavirus, Tuberculosis (TB), and Influenza (Flu), though these immunizations are recommended by the CDC.

Maine laws protect children from deadly diseases including:

  • Measles

  • Mumps

  • Rubella

  • Polio

  • Chicken Pox

  • Diphtheria

  • Pertussis Haemophilius (Whooping Cough)

  • Meningococcal Disease

  • Hepatitis A + B

  • Tetanus

The State of Maine currently requires immunizations for all school children, including babies and toddlers attending daycare. Most of these vaccines require booster shots given over the course of several years to achieve immunity.

Required for Kindergarten entry:

  • 5 DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis; 4 DTaP if 4th is given on or after 4th birthday)

  • 4 Polio (if 4th dose given before the 4th birthday, an additional age appropriate IPV should be given on or after the 4th birthday)

  • 2 MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)

  • 2 Varicella (chickenpox) or reliable history of disease

Required for 7th grade entry:

  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)

  • 1 Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV4)

Required for 12th grade entry:

  • 2 MCV4, only one dose is required if the 1st dose is given on or after 16th birthday


why do we need a vaccine law?

All 50 states have laws requiring vaccines for school entry. Maine's law dates back to 1868. Currently, Maine’s non-medical exemption rates are among the highest in the nation, and that puts our public health at serious risk.

To see the data for yourself, review the full 2018-2019 Maine School Immunization Assessment Report from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Maine has dipped dangerously below safe targets for community immunity. That leaves us vulnerable to deadly outbreaks of disease, and it threatens the fundamental right of every child to attend school safely. Maine’s vaccine law received bipartisan support in every county in the state and won with a 73% margin of victory.

What does the new law mean?

Maine’s vaccine law eliminates the religious and philosophical exemptions that previously allowed parents to opt their children out of immunization without a valid medical reason. By removing non-medical exemptions to immunization requirements for school attendance and healthcare employment, the law closes the loopholes that left community immunity at risk. This means that our schools and communities are safer from communicable disease.

The law upholds the right of parents to choose whether their children will be vaccinated, and it gives healthcare providers broad latitude to provide medical exemptions based on their professional judgment.

What are medical exemptions and who can write them?

Licensed physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants may provide a written statement indicating that a child is medically exempt from one or more immunization requirements. A medical exemption is allowed when a child has a medical condition that prevents them from receiving a vaccine. Generally, this includes history of anaphylaxis, known altered immunodeficiency (e.g. cancer), severe reactions after vaccines (e.g. encephalopathy), pregnancy, or Guillan-Barre Syndrome.

View the complete list of allowable medical exemptions.

When does the law go into effect?

PL 154 goes into effect on September 1, 2021. The State of Maine is currently awaiting rule making on the law; we will provide updates as soon as we know more information.

Which diseases does the law help to prevent?

Students are required to be protected from diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, and meningococcal meningitis.

How can I make sure my child is ready for school or daycare?

Don’t wait: vaccinate! Talk to your pediatrician now to make sure your child is up to date on their routine immunizations, or to develop a schedule that will ensure they are caught up and ready for school or daycare by September 1.

What happens if a child is not up to date on their immunizations or medically exempt?

Parents who choose not to immunize their child have the option of home schooling. If a child is not immunized or immune from a disease, they will be excluded from school and school activities if a public health official determines that the child’s continued presence in school poses a clear danger to the health of others. The superintendent will exclude the child from school and school activities during the period of danger or until the child is immunized.

Is there a cost for immunizing a child?

No. The Maine Immunization Program works with vaccine manufacturers and healthcare providers to make vaccines free and easily available to every child in the state. All health insurance programs provide routine immunization free of cost, and no child can be denied access to immunization because of an inability to pay an administrative fee or a lack of health insurance.

Where can I learn about the diseases this law helps to prevent?

The Maine Immunization Program offers fact sheets on infectious disease. You can also find reliable information about vaccine-preventable disease by visiting the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center.

Which immunizations are NOT required by the State of Maine for school or daycare?

Students are not required to be protected against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Haemophilus Influenza B (HiB), Rotavirus, Tuberculosis (TB), and Influenza (Flu), though these immunizations are recommended by the CDC.

Students are not currently required to be immunized against Covid-19 in order to attend school. A vaccine for children under the age of 16 has been developed and is undergoing rigorous clinical trials. We will provide more information when this vaccine is available.

Who can I contact with specific questions about Maine’s vaccine law?

For information about PL 154, contact Maine Families for Vaccines: info@mainefamiliesforvaccines.com.

For questions about how the law will be implemented, contact the Maine Immunization Program and Department of Education team: ImmunizeME.DHHS@Maine.gov.


Resources:


What Your Child Needs For Vaccines_final
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