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School immunizations and enrollment

Published October 2014

School immunization laws were first established to control outbreaks of smallpox and are currently used to avoid epidemics of contagious vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, whooping cough and polio. These laws lessen the chance of infection and outbreaks in schools and communities by reducing the number of unprotected people who may be infected and subsequently transmit the disease.

Iowa Code 139A.8 requires all students enrolling in an Iowa school to submit proof of immunizations to the admitting official using an Iowa Department of Public Health certificate of immunization or a provisional certificate, unless a valid certificate of religious or medical exemption has been submitted.

What does this mean for the administrator?
It is the duty of the admitting officials to ensure a valid certificate is on file for each student in their schools (Iowa Administrative Code (IAC 641-7.8(1)). Applicants without proper evidence of immunization or exemption are not entitled to enrollment in an elementary or secondary school. It shall be the duty of the admitting official to deny enrollment to students who do not comply with requirements for proof of immunization or immunization exemption (IAC 641-7.10).

What is provisional enrollment?
Students may be provisionally enrolled if they have received at least one dose of each of the required vaccines or they are transfer students from other U.S. school systems. The provisional certificate should be issued upon enrollment in the school. The provisional certificate allows for the vaccine to be administered as soon as medically feasible but shall not exceed 60 calendar days (IAC 641-7.7(2)). It is the responsibility of the applicant, parent or guardian to ensure the applicant receives all necessary immunizations during the provisional enrollment period and submit a certificate of immunization to the admitting official at the end of the provisional enrollment period (IAC 641-7.7(3)).

What happens when we don’t receive a certificate of immunization?
At the end of a provisional enrollment period, if an enrollee has not submitted a certificate of immunization, the admitting official shall immediately exclude the applicant from the benefits, activities and opportunities of the school until the applicant submits a valid certificate of immunization (IAC 641-7.7(5)).

Contact Thomas Mayes at 515-281-8661 or

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 19, 2021 at 11:00am.