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immunization exemptions

What are provisions for exceptions to immunizations?

Montana law states that school officials may not allow a student to attend school unless the student has been immunized against certain diseases. See Mont. Code Ann. 20-5-403, reproduced below. Montana law also provides exceptions to that general requirement in Mont. Code Ann. 20-5-405, also reproduced below.

The first exception is a religion-based exception; if the student's parent or guardian believes immunization is "contrary to the religious tenets and practices" of the parent or guardian, immunization may be avoided. See Mont. Code Ann. 20-5-405(1). Please note that a person who falsely claims a religious exemption is subject to the criminal penalty for false swearing. See Mont. Code Ann. 45-7-202.

The second exception is a medical-based exception; if immunization would not be safe for the student, immunization may be avoided for a period of time or indefinitely. See Mont. Code Ann. 20-5-405(2). In that case a physician must provide information. In both instances, the parent or guardian must sign a statement concerning the exception sought.

 Finally, whenever there is good cause to believe that the student has a disease or has been exposed to a disease listed in Mont. Code Ann. 20-5-403 or will as a result of school attendance be exposed to such disease, the student may be excluded from the school by the local health officer or the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services until the excluding authority is satisfied that the student no longer risks contracting or transmitting that disease.

20-5-403. Immunization required -- release and acceptance of immunization records. (1) The governing authority of any school other than a postsecondary school may not allow a person to attend as a pupil unless the person: (a) has been immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, rubella, mumps, and measles (rubeola) in the manner and with immunizing agents approved by the department, except that pertussis vaccination is not required for a person 7 years of age or older; (b) has been immunized against Haemophilus influenza type "b" before enrolling in a preschool if under 5 years of age; (c) qualifies for conditional attendance; or (d) files for an exemption. (2) (a) The governing authority of a postsecondary school may not allow a person to attend as a pupil unless the person: (i) has been immunized against rubella and measles (rubeola) in the manner and with immunizing agents approved by the department; or (ii) files for an exemption. (b) The governing authority of a postsecondary school may impose immunization requirements as a condition of attendance that are more stringent than those required by this part. (3) A pupil who transfers from one school district to another may photocopy immunization records in the possession of the school of origin. The school district to which a pupil transfers shall accept the photocopy as evidence of immunization. Within 30 days after a transferring pupil ceases attendance at the school of origin, the school shall retain a certified copy for the permanent record and send the original immunization records for the pupil to the school district to which the pupil transfers.

20-5-405. Medical or religious exemption. (1) When a parent, guardian, or adult who has the responsibility for the care and custody of a minor seeking to attend school or the person seeking to attend school, if an adult, signs and files with the governing authority, prior to the commencement of attendance each school year, a notarized affidavit on a form prescribed by the department stating that immunization is contrary to the religious tenets and practices of the signer, immunization of the person seeking to attend the school may not be required prior to attendance at the school. The statement must be maintained as part of the person's immunization records. A person who falsely claims a religious exemption is subject to the penalty for false swearing provided in 45-7-202.      (2) When a parent, guardian, or adult who has the responsibility for the care and custody of a minor seeking to attend school, or the person seeking to attend school, if an adult, files with the governing authority a written statement signed by a physician licensed to practice medicine in any jurisdiction of the United States or Canada stating that the physical condition of the person seeking to attend school or medical circumstances relating to him indicate that some or all of the required immunizations are not considered safe and indicating the specific nature and probable duration of the medical condition or circumstances which contraindicate immunization, he is exempt from the requirements of this part to the extent indicated by the physician's statement. The statement must be maintained as part of the person's immunization records.      (3) Whenever there is good cause to believe that a person for whom an exemption has been filed under this section has a disease or has been exposed to a disease listed in 20-5-403 or will as the result of school attendance be exposed to such disease, the person may be excluded from the school by the local health officer or the department until the excluding authority is satisfied that the person no longer risks contracting or transmitting that disease.




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Last Updated
22nd of February, 2010

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