Reminder to Keep Track of Routine Immunizations and
Guidance for Back to School
Date: August 9, 2023
Public Health Message Type: ☐ Alert ☐ Advisory ☒ Update ☐ Information
Intended Audience: ☒ All public health partners ☒ Health care providers
☒ Infection preventionists ☒ Local health departments ☒ Schools/child care ☐ ACOs
☐ Animal health professionals ☒ Other: Parents
As part of the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), Vaccine Preventable Disease Program’s commitment to ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment in the upcoming school year, we want to emphasize the importance of everyone being up to date with all vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By following the schedule recommended by the ACIP, students and communities will be optimally protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases including COVID-19 and influenza.
Immunizations play a crucial role in protecting children from preventable diseases and contribute to the well-being of the entire school community. While everyone should follow the ACIP-recommended vaccination schedule, it is important that students meet the state immunization requirements as a condition of enrollment and attendance in childcare/preschools and schools in New Jersey (NJ). Immunization requirements for school attendance in NJ are summarized at Childcare/Preschools and K-12.
All students must provide a copy of their updated immunization records to the school nurse or the childcare/preschool administrator before the start of the school year. If a child requires any vaccinations or needs to catch up on missed immunizations, parents should schedule an appointment with a health care provider as soon as possible. Early planning will help avoid last-minute rushes and minimize disruption in school attendance. The IMM-8 (yellow card), Health History and Appraisal Form (A-45), and the New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS) are considered official immunization records. NJIIS immunization records are also accessible through the Docket app. Download the free app by searching “Docket” on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
Requests for exemptions based on philosophical, moral, secular, or more general reasons are unacceptable. Only religious and/or medical exemptions are allowed. Guidance on what constitutes a valid exemption can be found here.
Serology is helpful when immunization records cannot be obtained to show proof of vaccination history such as when students newly enter the United States from areas affected by natural disasters. Providers should review the ACIP/CDC recommendations for serology testing and ensure they are ordering the appropriate tests (e.g., it is never appropriate to order an IgM to assess vaccine-induced immunity). Serology tests are not available for all antigens; serology should only be performed if the tests are FDA-approved and CLIA certified. Serology should never be used to abort a recommended vaccination series (e.g., checking serology after 2 doses of a recommended 3 dose hepatitis B series). This information is available at Immunization Requirements FAQs.
We all have a collective responsibility to protect the health and well-being of our students and school community.
Ensuring that every child is up to date with their immunizations creates a safer environment for everyone.
ACTION ITEMS FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
• Stay up to date on Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommendations.
• Vaccinate in accordance with New Jersey’s school immunization requirements and the CDC-recommended immunization schedule.
• Refer to the NJ Immunization Reminder Checklists for a quick reference on recommended and required vaccines for Back to School/Campus.
• Use every opportunity to assess for immunizations to ensure children get back on track with their routine immunizations.
• Consider participating in the NJ Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program to provide free or low-cost vaccines to reduce financial barriers.
• Participate in the New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS). Click here to enroll. All health care providers who administer vaccines to children 6 years of age and under are required by law to enter the immunization history into the NJ Immunization Information System (NJIIS), state registry, within 30 days of administration (N.J.A.C. 8:57-3.16).
ACTION ITEMS FOR SCHOOL AND PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS
• Review student immunization records to ensure compliance with school attendance.
• Participate in NJIIS. Click here to enroll.
• Maintain a list of students who are in the process of catching up on immunizations to ensure timely receipt based on the CDC Catch-Up Schedule.
• Share NJDOH and CDC immunization educational materials with parents.
• Become familiar with the schools and local health department in your jurisdiction.
• Submit the Annual Immunization Status Report during the reporting period of January 1 through February 1 to the State Health Department and email a copy to your local health department.
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
• CDC’s “Back To School” campaign, CDC tools, and partner education toolkit
• CDC Vaccines and Immunizations, cdc.gov/vaccines/
• CDC Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP, cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/index.html
• New Jersey Department of Health Vaccine Preventable Disease Program, Immunization Requirements, nj.gov/health/cd/imm_requirements/
• New Jersey Department of Health Vaccine Information Toolkit for Parents and Guardians (third bullet in the
• New Jersey Immunization Information System website, njiis.nj.gov/
and parent brochure, njiis.nj.gov/docs/NJIIS_Your_Best_Shot.pdf
• New Jersey Vaccines for Children (VFC) brochure for health care providers, njiis.nj.gov/docs/VFCBrochure.pdf
SAVE THE DATE
NJDOH Back to School webinar will be held on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Stay tuned for registration details.
Please contact Jeni Sudhakaran at 609-826-4861 with any questions.