Parents are required to submit immunization verification to a school when a student enrolls: (1) in kindergarten, (2) “for the first time” in a public or nonpublic school, and (3) in 7th grade. Schools must then report each student’s immunization status in those categories to their local health department. A student’s individual medical history and immunization records, however, are education records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and cannot be disclosed absent an applicable FERPA exception or written parental consent.
In response to verification issues arising from parents who refuse to allow schools to disclose student immunization records, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) created a new aggregate reporting form that includes a “FERPA No Consent” checkbox in the Michigan Care Improvement Registry School Immunization Reporting System (MCIR SIRS). MDHHS also updated its FAQs and issued a memo on immunization requirements for students to address the reporting form change.
In August 2018, MCIR SIRS added the “FERPA No Consent” checkbox to the system for schools to use when a parent does not consent to share a student’s immunization information. MCIR’s guidance states that schools are responsible to obtain consent to disclose a student’s immunization status on the “Consent for Disclosure of Immunization Information to Local and State Health Departments” form available at:
If a parent completes this form or otherwise provides written consent for the school to disclose the student’s immunization status, a school does not have to use the “FERPA No Consent” checkbox to report.
If a parent refuses to complete the form or provide written consent to disclose the student’s immunization status, FERPA prohibits, in most instances, schools from sharing the student’s information with state and local health departments. In that situation, schools should use the “FERPA No Consent” checkbox in the MCIR SIRS system and MDHHS’s new aggregate reporting form.
The new aggregate reporting form enables schools to disclose student immunization information without identifying the student. Per MDE and MDHHS, student immunization information in an aggregate form is not “personally identifiable information” under FERPA and can be disclosed without parental consent. The new form allows schools to report, without identifying students, the total number of students whose parents did not consent to the disclosure of their immunization status, as well as the total number of students who have received a specific vaccine. The new form can be found at:
On August 21, 2019, MDHHS updated its FAQs on the “FERPA No Consent” checkbox. Those FAQs provide an analysis of FERPA’s interplay with the immunization reporting process, noting that FERPA requires “active consent” and that a parent’s failure to turn in a consent form does not permit disclosure of the student’s immunization status. The FAQs emphasize that the FERPA consent forms are entirely separate from non-medical immunization waiver forms. Parents who do not consent to the disclosure of their student’s immunization status do not automatically obtain a non-medical waiver; parents must still satisfy the legal requirements for a non-medical waiver.
MDE and MDHHS issued an August 29, 2019 memo regarding immunization requirements for students entering kindergarten or 7th grade or enrolling for the first time in a public or nonpublic school, which can be found at:
The August 29 memo reviews the immunization requirements for a child to attend school and the non-medical waiver requirements, and re-emphasizes that students whose parents fail to submit the required information “shall not be admitted into the school.” The memo provides guidance on how to report student immunization information if a parent fails to submit a FERPA consent form.
School officials should ensure that parental consent is received before disclosing student immunization information to local or state health departments. If parents do not give consent, school officials should utilize both the “FERPA No Consent” checkbox in the MCIR SIRS and the new aggregate reporting form to meet all immunization reporting requirements. Immunization information must be reported to local or state health departments by November 1, 2019 to avoid state aid penalties.