Below are Frequently Asked Questions – and answers – about the 2017 School Immunization Requirements.

Still have questions? Contact us! We’re here to help.

  • For Parents

    I got a letter in the mail from PDPH. What does it mean?

    We sent you a letter if, according to our records, your child isn’t up to date on their MCV4 (meningococcal) immunization. It means that your child needs at least one dose of MCV4. You will need to make an appointment with your child’s doctor to get your child vaccinated.

    Will my 16-year-old child be sent home from school if they are missing a dose of MCV4?

    Not necessarily. All 12th-graders need one dose of MCV4, given on or after their 16th birthday. If your child is 16 or older, he or she can receive the vaccine even though they’re not in 12th grade yet. They are only at risk of being sent home from school (“excluded”) if they are entering 12th grade and don’t yet have this dose.

    Can the school really send non-immunized children home?

    Yes. This is called “exclusion.” The State of Pennsylvania has a code on non-immunized children which states,

    “A child may not be admitted to or permitted to attend a public, private, nonpublic, special education or vocational school in a district unless the immunization, exemption or provisional admission requirements of the Department of Health, at 28 Pa. Code Chapter 23, Subchapter C (relating to immunization), have been met or the child has received from the chief school administrator of the public, private, nonpublic, special education or vocational school a medical or religious exemption from immunization under 28 Pa. Code §  23.84 (relating to exemption from immunization).”

     If I don’t know my child’s immunization history, where can I go to get it?

    Parents can request immunization records from the Philadelphia Immunization Program. Complete and send us a records request form, which can be found here. If your child is not a Philadelphia resident or received immunizations outside of city limits, you should contact your child’s previous pediatrician or medical provider to get immunization records.

    Where can I take my child to get up to date on their immunizations?

    Parents should contact their child’s primary pediatrician or medical provider to schedule an “immunization appointment”. If your child does not have a primary pediatrician, medical provider, or medical home, you can bring them to one of the City of Philadelphia Health Centers. Find a list of all the City Health Centers here. Please call ahead to make sure they can see your child for an immunization appointment-some health centers have specific immunization walk-in hours.

    Additionally, go to www.phila.gov/health for information on immunization clinics health by PDPH or other organizations.

    Will schools or providers accept immunization records from other countries?

    Yes. Health care providers and school nurses will accept any immunization records from other countries.

    What is the difference between a Medical Certificate (green and white card) and a Medical Plan (red and white card)?

    Health care providers can fill out these cards for children to bring to school nurses to show what immunizations they have received.

    A Medical Certificate care (or green and white card) shows:

    • That a child is up to date on their required immunization
    • Whether a child meets any qualified exemptions (medical, religious, or philosophical exemptions)

    If a child needs additional doses, and those doses are not medically appropriate during the first five days of school, a Medical Plan card (or red and white card) shows the plan to administer additional doses. This card must be signed by a medical provider (physician, certified registered nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or registered nurse). A child may continue to attend school as long as the child complies with the vaccine schedule on the Medical Plan.

    If a child is not up to date within the first 5 days, how can they avoid exclusion?

    A child who is not up to date can continue attending school if they qualify for an exemption or a waiver.

    • Exemption: medical, religious, or philosophical. If a child meets one of these exemptions, they must submit a Medical Certificate stating this exemption with the appropriate signatures and additional information.
    • Waiver: Waivers give the child 30 days to produce their immunization records or become up to date. Eligible waivers include:
      • Homelessness;
      • If the child cannot provide immunization records due to a disaster
      • If the child transfers into the school.

    A school can grant additional time if there is a national vaccine shortage.

    If a child is planning on becoming up to date but cannot receive the final dose in a series, they can provide a Medical Plan card (red/white card) that indicates when the child will be receiving the final, medically appropriate dose.

    Where can I go to get more information?

    • For additional information, visit phila.gov/health
    • Call us at 215-685-6650 (English) or 215-685-6498 (Spanish) with questions
  • For Healthcare Providers

    Can the school really send non-immunized children home?

    Yes. This is called “exclusion.” The State of Pennsylvania has a code on non-immunized children which states,

    “A child may not be admitted to or permitted to attend a public, private, nonpublic, special education or vocational school in a district unless the immunization, exemption or provisional admission requirements of the Department of Health, at 28 Pa. Code Chapter 23, Subchapter C (relating to immunization), have been met or the child has received from the chief school administrator of the public, private, nonpublic, special education or vocational school a medical or religious exemption from immunization under 28 Pa. Code §  23.84 (relating to exemption from immunization).”

     If a child is not up to date within the first 5 days, how can they avoid exclusion?

    A child who is not up to date can continue attending school if they qualify for an exemption or a waiver.

    • Exemption: medical, religious, or philosophical. If a child meets one of these exemptions, they must submit a Medical Certificate (green and white card) stating this exemption with the appropriate signatures and additional information.
    • Waiver: Waivers give the child 30 days to produce their immunization records or become up to date. Eligible waivers include:
    • Homelessness;
    • If the child cannot provide immunization records due to a disaster
    • If the child transfers into the school.

    A school can grant additional time if there is a national vaccine shortage.

    If a child is planning on becoming up to date but cannot receive the final dose in a series, they can provide a Medical Plan card (red and white card) that indicates when the child will be receiving the final, medically appropriate dose.

    If I don’t know a child’s immunization history, where can I go to get it?

    As a health care provider, you can use the KIDS Plus IIS to access a record of any immunizations received in Philadelphia .

    To access the KIDS Plus IIS, you must have an up-to-date confidentiality on file. Click here to submit or renew your confidentiality agreement.

    Will schools or providers accept immunization records from other countries?

    Yes. Health care providers and school nurses will accept immunization records from other countries.

    School nurses: the School District of Philadelphia has an internal service that you can use through the Office of Multilingual Family Support.

    Health care providers: you can use translation services such as the National Services Center to translate records from other countries.

    What is the difference between a Medical Certificate (green and white card) and a Medical Plan (red and white card)?

    Health care providers can fill out these cards for children to bring to school nurses to show what immunizations they have received.

    A Medical Certificate care (or green and white card) shows:

    • That a child is up to date on their required immunization
    • Whether a child meets any qualified exemptions (medical, religious, or philosophical exemptions)

    If a child needs additional doses, and those doses are not medically appropriate during the first five days of school, a Medical Plan card (or red and white card) shows the plan to administer additional doses. This card must be signed by a medical provider (physician, certified registered nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or registered nurse). A child may continue to attend school as long as the child complies with the vaccine schedule on the Medical Plan.

    If a child is not up to date within the first 5 days, how can they avoid exclusion?

    A child who is not up to date can continue attending school if they qualify for an exemption or a waiver.

    • Exemption: medical, religious, or philosophical. If a child meets one of these exemptions, they must submit a Medical Certificate stating this exemption with the appropriate signatures and additional information.
    • Waiver: Waivers give the child 30 days to produce their immunization records or become up to date. Eligible waivers include:
      • Homelessness;
      • If the child cannot provide immunization records due to a disaster
      • If the child transfers into the school.

    A school can grant additional time if there is a national vaccine shortage.

    If a child is planning on becoming up to date but cannot receive the final dose in a series, they can provide a Medical Plan card (red/white card) that indicates when the child will be receiving the final, medically appropriate dose.

    What if a child goes to a school that has no recognized grade levels?

    If a child attends a school that does not recognize grade levels, follow the recommendations for the grade that the child would be in, for their age. If a child is 12 years old, they would need to meet the recommendation for 7th grade, because most 12-year-olds are in 7th grade.

    If a child received their 4th dose of Polio before their 4th birthday, do they meet the recommendation?

    If a child received their 4th dose of Polio before their 4th birthday, they do not meet the requirement. That child needs an additional dose of Polio on or after their 4th, even if it will be their fourth or fifth dose.

    Can nurses sign medical certificates?

    Yes. Registered nurses can sign medical certificates (green/white card) and medical plans (red card) as long as they are operating under a standing order from a physician.

    Where can I go to get more information?

    For additional information, you can:

    • Visit phila.gov/health, which provides basic resources for parents
    • Explore resources at kids.phila.gov, which provides in-depth resources for school nurses and health care providers
    • Call the Pennsylvania State Department of Public Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH for more information on the new school requirements