ANDREW M. CUOMO                              HOWARD A. ZUCKER, M.D., J.D.                              LISA J. PINO, M.A., J.D.
Governor                                                    Commissioner                                                             Executive Deputy Commissioner

To: School Administrators
From: New York State Department of Health
Date: October 12, 2020

Guidance for School Administrators Regarding Limited Temporary Enforcement of Student Immunization Requirement

Summary 

  • All public and non-public Pre-K to Grade 12 schools must ensure that all students are up to date with all mandatory school vaccinations, regardless whether they are attending school in-person, via remote learning, or a hybrid model.
  • Public Health Law § 2164 requires each Pre-K through Grade 12 student to satisfy certain vaccination requirements as a condition of attending school. These requirements are listed in the 2020-21 School Year New York State Immunization Requirements for School 

Entrance/Attendance.

  • The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) is the entity charged with enforcement the requirement that schools comply with Public Health Law § 2164.
  • NYS DOH finds there has been difficulty in obtaining required vaccinations as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, resulting in inability for some students to meet the vaccination requirements. • NYS DOH is therefore suspending enforcement of required vaccinations for students to attend school for a period of 30 days, only for students attending school exclusively remotely, if such student intends to obtain the required vaccinations in the coming 30 days.
  • For students using remote learning exclusively, if a school does not receive proof of all required vaccinations by 30 days from the date of this letter, the school shall not permit the student to attend, including through remote learning, until such proof has been received.

Advisory The Department is aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has limited many students’ ability to obtain  required vaccinations, and that students who otherwise intend to obtain the required vaccinations are  currently restricted in their ability to be admitted to schools because of this ongoing limitation. Further,  students who exclusively use remote learning present a lesser risk of acquiring or transmitting  communicable disease to other students. However, even for students engaged exclusively in remote  learning, vaccination remains an essential requirement, to ensure that these diseases do not spread in  the community. In recognition of these factors, the Department will exercise discretion with respect to enforcement of school vaccination requirements and will not enforce the provisions of Public Health Law § 2164(7) for  a period of 30 days commencing from the date of this letter, for students attending school exclusively  through remote learning. During this grace period, students engaged in remote learning must obtain all Empire State Plaza, Corning Tower, Albany, NY 12237│health.ny.gov required vaccinations, if they have not already, to be eligible to continue attending school following  expiration of this guidance. As a condition of attending remote learning activities during this 30-day period, parents of remote learning students must submit an affidavit, in a form and manner determined  by the school, acknowledging intention to obtain the appropriate vaccinations during the 30 day period. Please note that, as in past school years, schools must continue to prohibit any student from attending school in-person, where the school has not received evidence of all required vaccinations within 14 days from the first day of admission. During the 30-day period of this guidance, impacted schools must coordinate with parents and their  local department of health to establish a time and place at which an immunizing agent or agents shall be administered to students lacking proof of required vaccinations, as required by law. Local health  departments are reminded that they must cooperate in arranging for these vaccinations. If cooperation  does not occur, the commissioner is authorized to step in and may recover the cost from the amount of  state aid owed to the local department. For questions about vaccination requirements, please contact NYS DOH Immunization program at  immunize@health.ny.gov.

Important Note: This memo is only for students attending school exclusively remotely, if such  student intends to obtain the required vaccinations in the coming 30 days.


On June 13, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation removing non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children to help protect the public from the worst measles outbreak in more than 25 years. These changes reflect the seriousness of ensuring all children are properly immunized. Perhaps the most important change to the regulations is the requirement that physicians are now required to enter the reason for their medical exemptions in NYSIIS. In addition, it requires the use of medical exemption forms approved by the New York State Department of Health or New York City Department of Education; a written statement from a physician is no longer allowed. In order for a medical exemption to be compliant with state regulations, providers must submit patient information, including the reason [for the exemption] that such immunization may be detrimental to the child’s health to the statewide immunization information system within 14 days following the in-person clinical interaction that occurs at or after what would normally have been the due date for administration of an age-appropriate immunization to that child. Learn more about the latest changes to NYS DOH Immunization Regulations by clicking on the links below: Links:

NYSDOH Webinar: Measles and the Repeal of Non-Medical Exemptions for NYS Healthcare Professionals – August 13, 2019 NYSDOH Immunization Requirements FAQs NYSDOH Fact Sheet: New Law on School Vaccination Requirements