Do children need vaccinations to attend child care or school in Vermont?

Short Answer

Vermont’s immunization law says that parents are required to fully vaccinate children according to recommendations for their age group before they enter school or child care. However, in certain limited circumstances, a child may be allowed to attend child care or school without some or all of his or her vaccinations.


As of the writing of this website, Vermont requires all children to be immunized prior to entering child care or school. Parents must submit official proof of vaccination annually for child care upon entry to kindergarten, seventh grade, postsecondary school, and any time a child registers at a school for the first time, including high school or other secondary schools. No federal vaccination laws exist, but all 50 states require certain vaccinations for children entering public schools.

The Vermont Recommended Immunization Schedule, issued and updated periodically by the Department of Health, specifies the immunizations required by this rule. The schedule is published on the Department of Health’s website, currently at These requirements are based on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations published and updated periodically by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Several different documents are considered official proof of vaccination:

A record from any public health department listing the individual immunizations and the compete date (mm/dd/yyyy) each immunization was administered

A record from State Immunization Registry or other registry approved by the Department of Health listing the individual immunizations and the complete date (mm/dd/yyyy) each immunization was administered

A laboratory report of a titer indicating evidence of immunity to each disease for which immunization is required

An official school record from any school listing the individual immunizations and the complete date (mm/dd/yyyy) the immunization was administered

A certificate signed by a health-care practitioner listing the individual immunizations and the complete date (mm/dd/yyyy) the immunization was administered

Since 1979, Vermont has allowed a philosophical exemption, and it is one of seven states that require only a parent signature for exemption. The 2011 rate of philosophical exemption for one or more vaccines among children entering kindergarten in Vermont was 5.2 percent, which is one of the highest rates in the country.

Data is reported on all children in child care, at kindergarten, seventh grade, and entry to certain postsecondary schools. The data reported reflects compliance with Vermont‐specific vaccine and exemption requirements. For school year 2011–12, incoming combined public and private kindergarten exemption rates were: 0.3 percent medical, 0.1 percent religious, and 5.2 percent philosophic. In addition, 7.3 percent were provisionally admitted, meaning they did not meet vaccine requirements or have an exemption on file.

Some children cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. In these cases, the child’s parent or guardian can file a medical exemption form with the school or child-care facility. The medical exemption form must be signed by the child’s health-care provider stating that the specific immunization is or may be detrimental to the child’s health. The form must include the reason for the real or potential detriment and the length of time it will be detrimental. The medical exemption form can be downloaded here:

A child may also be philosophically exempt from some or all vaccination requirements if the parent (or legal guardian) of the child submits a department-supplied form indicating that the child, child’s parent(s), or legal guardian has religious or philosophical beliefs that oppose immunization. The religious or philosophical exemption form can be downloaded here:

Laws are made to protect the public’s health and safety. Vaccine requirements are important in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Before vaccines, millions of children were sickened or killed by infectious diseases, which were often spread in community settings. Other health and safety issues that affect the public are mandated by the government, such as traffic lights, security prior to air travel, food-safety laws, and rules about text messaging while driving.