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at Advocates for Children

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New York, NY 10001

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Frequently Asked Questions: Immunizations

Can a school require that students in temporary housing provide immunization records before enrolling the student?

No. Students who are homeless are entitled to immediate enrollment in school even without records and they are not required to provide the same documents that permanently housed students normally need for enrollment. Instead, the enrolling school district has the responsibility to promptly request records on the student's behalf, including immunization records, from the district where the student was previously enrolled. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(3)(c)(i).

What if the student is missing the immunizations needed for continued enrollment?

If a student is missing immunizations, the student should be referred to the district's McKinney-Vento liaison. The liaison should help the student and family to find free or low-cost health clinics where they can get the necessary immunizations. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(C)(iii).

What if the student is a recent arrival from a foreign country?

Many students who arrive from foreign countries have been immunized. For example, at the time of arrival at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility, unaccompanied children are provided an initial medical screening. Children and youth who do not have documentation of previous valid vaccinations are provided with vaccinations by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. This means that unaccompanied children who have been placed with a sponsor after custody in a Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter will have (or be able to get) documentation of their immunizations. Some unaccompanied children may not have complete documentation of their immunizations. For this reason, when a student is transferring from another country, a school principal (or other designee) may allow that child to attend school for up to 30 days if there is evidence of a good faith effort to get immunizations or other evidence of immunization. N.Y. Public Health Law § 2164(7)(a).

Please note that immunizations administered outside the United States can be accepted as valid if the schedule (minimum ages and intervals) was similar to that recommended in the United States. See, Evaluating and Updating Immunizations during the Domestic Medical Examination for Newly Arrived Refugees.

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