|Maine Medicine Weekly Update
August 20, 2021
New Maine Immunization Law for Schools Takes Effect Sep 1
This is a reminder that a new law removing religious and philosophical exemptions for childhood immunizations to attend school in Maine is set to be implemented this school year, on September 1, 2021.
Students enrolled in grades PreK through 12 are required to be immunized against:
* Immunization requirements for preschool students: 4 DTap, 3 Polio, 1 MMR, 1 Varicella
All students enrolled in grades 7-12 also must be immunized against meningococcal disease.
Beginning September 1, 2021, philosophical exemptions and religious exemptions will no longer be allowed as exceptions from immunization requirements.
Medical exemptions are still allowed and are to be provided by the parent/student and in the form of a written statement from a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
Those with an IEP who elected a philosophical or religious exemption prior to Sept 01, 2021, may continue to attend school under an existing exemption with a statement from a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant confirming consultation that the parent or guardian has been made aware of the risks and benefits associated with the choice to immunize.
Individualized Education Plans (IEP)
Individualized Education Plans are covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Federal laws take priority over any conflicting rules of state law.
Students’ rights under IDEA supersede state law, local school board and school district policies. States cannot enact laws that provide less protection than guaranteed by federal law. Federal IDEA, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH or special education court) and the 9th District Circuit Court explicitly provide for children with IEP’s to be excluded from school immunization requirements.
***Important Note: 504 plans are not covered by IDEA and are therefore not exempt.
According to a Maine DOE sample letter to parents/guardians, “Beginning September 1, 2021 no child will be permitted to attend school without evidence of immunization or proof of immunity against disease.”However, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the following memo this week.
The document lists the various circumstances where exceptions apply, including a one-time written assurance from a parent or guardian that the child will be immunized by private effort within 90 days of enrollment (officially registering) in school or of the child first attending, whichever date is the earliest.Vax to School Maine
Vax to School Maine is a partnership between the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maine Immunization Coalition, and Maine Families for Vaccines. The website includes public service announcements on the new law and the following information to help Mainers learn more.
More Helpful Links
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