Vaccine Exemption Authority for TN Student’s

Vaccine Exemption Authority for Tennessee Student’s by Parents 

Parents must put into writing a statement as to have religious beliefs that object 

to the vaccination procedure being used on their student child with a pledge that 

they know that they are subject to penalty of perjury for signing a false statement.

The statement does not need to be notorized 

Tennessee Code Annotated creating this authority is underlined below.  Please

read before writing your own statement for you to sign and give to your child’s teacher or 

principal.   WBCR suggests you have the official receiving your statement sign on your statement 

as receiving it on the date presented and make you a copy of the signed statement for your record.

37-10-401.  Responsibility of parents to have children immunized — Specific vaccines — Immunization registry.

(a) It is the responsibility of each parent or legal guardian to ensure that such person’s child or children receive the vaccines as are recommended by guidelines of the Center for Disease Control or the American Academy of Pediatrics to be administered to a child. The parent or legal guardian is encouraged to obtain the recommended immunizations within the first two (2) years of the child’s life. Such vaccines include, without limitation, the following specific vaccines:

(1) Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP);

(2) Polio: oral polio vaccine (OPV) or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV);

(3) Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR);

(4) Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccines (Hib);

(5) Hepatitis B vaccine (Hep B);

(6) Pneumoccocal vaccine, when medically indicated;

(7) Influenza vaccine, when medically indicated; and

(8) Varicella, when available.

(b) Subject to availability of funding for such purpose, the department of health is authorized to provide free vaccine, through the first twenty-four (24) months of life, for Tennessee children born after January 1, 1996. If an administration fee is charged by a health provider receiving this vaccine, such fee may not exceed the administration fee established by the health care financing administration under the Vaccines for Children Program established in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. No immunization may be withheld due to a family’s inability to pay the fee.

(c) The department shall establish and maintain an immunization registry for children. By January 1, 1996, the department shall incrementally require all local public health departments to report, in a designated format, the record of each immunization given. Other health care providers or any third party payor or health insurance entity regulated by the department of commerce and insurance doing business in Tennessee, or any entity that has elected, organized and qualified as a self-insured entity may likewise report such records. Information from the registry shall be available to parents and legal guardians; health care providers; any third party payor or health insurance entity regulated by the department of commerce and insurance doing business in Tennessee; any entity that has elected, organized and qualified as a self-insured entity; and schools, child care facilities, and other institutions having care or custody of children.

(d) The commissioner of health shall report to the members of the health committee of the house of representatives, and the health and welfare committee of the senate, by March 1 of each year, on the immunization rates in each county and improvements or changes made during the preceding year.

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 377, § 1; 1995, ch. 537, §§ 1, 2; 2003, ch. 40, § 2; 2011, ch. 410, § 3(bb); 2013, ch. 236, § 54.

37-10-402.  Conflict with religious tenets and practices of parent.

  In the absence of an epidemic or immediate threat thereof, this section does not apply to any child whose parent or guardian files with proper authorities a signed, written statement that such immunization and other preventative measures conflict with the religious tenets and practices of the parent or guardian affirmed under penalties of perjury.

HISTORY: Acts 1993, ch. 377, § 1.

Children with medical or religious exemption to requirements

  • Medical – Physicians (MD or DO) or Public Health Nurses are authorized to indicate specific vaccines medically exempted (because of risk of harm) on the certificate. Other vaccines remain required. The medical reason for the exemption does not need to be provided.
  • Religious – This exemption requires a signed statement by the parent/guardian that vaccination conflicts with their religious tenets or practices. If the child needs documentation of a health examination for the school, it must be noted by the healthcare provider on the immunization certificate. In that case, the provider should check the box in section 1a. that the parent has sought a religious exemption to explain why immunization information is absent or incomplete.

Minimum ages or dose intervals – Tennessee follows published CDC guidelines. For vaccines with critical minimum age requirements (e.g., MMR, varicella) or minimum dose intervals, doses are considered valid if given up to 4 days before the minimum age or dose interval. Doses administered more than 4 days early are considered invalid and should be repeated as recommended.
Alternative proof of immunity for certain diseases – A positive serology (year of test documented) is acceptable as an alternative to immunization for measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B or varicella. For varicella, documentation of provider diagnosed varicella or provider-verified credible history of disease given by a parent or guardian also is acceptable. By documenting a history of disease, the provider is asserting that he or she is convinced that the child has had chickenpox.
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