Press Release

August 10, 2005



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – It’s back to school time and Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today reminded parents to check their children’s immunization and physical records before the 2005-2006 school year starts.

Illinois law requires that children attending any public, private, independent or parochial elementary or secondary school be immunized against nine diseases and children entering school for the first time, kindergarten, fifth and ninth grades must have a school physical examination.

“Childhood immunizations are one of the easiest and most effective ways we can help ensure our children grow up healthy and free from the effects of serious, preventable diseases,” Dr. Whitaker said. “Vaccinations not only protect the children who receive them, but they also contribute to the well-being of everyone by reducing the chance for these diseases to spread.”

Dr. Whitaker said a child without the state-mandated vaccinations will not be allowed to attend school until all the immunizations have been received or until medical proof has been provided that the child has had the disease or is currently on an acceptable medical schedule to receive needed immunizations. School districts must demonstrate at least 90 percent compliance with the immunization requirements no later than Oct. 15 each year or face a 10 percent loss of state aid. School districts have the option of enforcing the requirement anytime from the opening day of school until Oct. 15.

State law does provide exemptions from the immunization requirements for religious or medical reasons.

For an exemption on religious grounds, the parent or legal guardian must submit a written and signed statement to the local school authority detailing the religious belief that conflicts with immunizations.

A medical exemption must be from a licensed physician and indicate the medical condition that precludes the child from receiving the required immunizations.

To be protected from these diseases and to be in compliance with state law, children entering Illinois elementary or secondary schools for the first time must show vaccination proof for the following:

  • Measles – Two doses of live measles vaccine, the first dose at 12 months of age or later and the second dose at least one month after the first; a physician-diagnosed case of measles; or laboratory evidence of immunity.
  • Polio – Three or more doses administered at appropriate intervals with the last dose being a booster received on or after the child’s fourth birthday.
  • Diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), pertussis (whooping cough) (DTaP or DTP) – Four or more doses administered at the appropriate intervals with the last dose being a booster received on or after the child’s fourth birthday. Children 6 years of age and older may receive TD vaccine in lieu of DTaP or DTP vaccine. A TD booster is needed after 10 years.
  • Mumps – One dose of mumps vaccine at 12 months of age or later; a physician-diagnosed case of mumps; or laboratory confirmed evidence of immunity.
  • Rubella – One dose of rubella vaccine at 12 months of age or later; or laboratory evidence of immunity.
  • Varicella – One dose of varicella vaccine at 12 months of age or later; prior varicella disease if verified with date of illness by a physician or a health care provider’s interpretation of parent’s or guardian’s description of disease history; or laboratory evidence of immunity.

Hepatitis B is required for those entering daycare or preschool and fifth grade. Three doses of hepatitis B vaccine should be given, with the first two shots at least four weeks apart. The interval between the first and third doses must be at least four months. Laboratory proof of prior or current infection may be submitted as proof of immunity.

Vaccines are available statewide through health care providers, local health department and public clinics. For information on obtaining immunizations or a school physical, individuals should contact their local health department.

In addition to immunizations and a physical exam, state law requires children 6 months through 6 years of age who are entering a licensed day care facility, preschool or kindergarten to be screened or assessed for lead poisoning.

Children living in areas determined by the Department to be high-risk for lead poisoning must be screened using a blood lead test. Those who live in low-risk areas must be evaluated individually using a lead risk assessment questionnaire developed by the Department.


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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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