2020 Georgia Code
Title 20 - Education
Chapter 2 - Elementary and Secondary Education
Article 16 - Students
Part 3 - Health
§ 20-2-771. Immunization of Students
- As used in this Code section, the term:
- "Certificate of immunization" means certification by a physician licensed under the laws of this state or by an appropriate official of a local board of health, on a form provided by the Department of Public Health, that a named person has been immunized in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the Department of Public Health.
- "Facility" means any public or private child care learning center or nursery intended for the care, supervision, or instruction of children.
- "Responsible official" means a county school superintendent, a school principal, or a chief operating officer of a school or facility.
- "School" means any public or private educational program or institution instructing children at any level or levels, kindergarten through twelfth grade, or children of ages five through 19 if grade divisions are not used.
- No child shall be admitted to or attend any school or facility in this state unless the child shall first have submitted a certificate of immunization to the responsible official of the school or facility. The responsible official of any school or facility may grant a 30 calendar day waiver of the certification requirement for a justified reason. The waiver may be extended from the date of first admittance or of first attendance, whichever is earlier, for up to 90 calendar days provided documentation is on file at the school or facility from the local health department or a physician specifying that an immunization sequence has been started and that this immunization time schedule can be completed within the 90 day waiver period, provided confirmation is received during the waiver period from the health department or physician that immunizations are being received as scheduled, and provided the student under waiver is a transfer student, who is defined as a student who moves from an out-of-state school system to a Georgia school system, or a student entering kindergarten or first grade from out of state. The waiver may not be extended beyond 90 calendar days; and upon expiration of the waiver, the child shall not be admitted to or be permitted to attend the school or facility unless the child submits a certificate of immunization.
- The Department of Public Health shall promulgate rules and regulations specifying those diseases against which immunization is required and the standards for such immunizations. The school or facility shall maintain on file the certificates of immunization for all children attending the school or facility. All facilities shall file a report annually with the Department of Public Health. The report shall be filed on forms prepared by the Department of Public Health and shall state the number of children attending the school or facility, the number of children who did not submit certificates of immunization within the waiver period, and the number of children who are exempted from the certification requirement for medical or religious reasons.
- If, after examination by the local board of health or any physician licensed under the laws of this state or of any other state having comparable laws governing the licensure of physicians, any child to whom this Code section applies is found to have any physical disability which may make vaccination undesirable, a certificate to that effect issued by the local board of health or such physician licensed under the laws of this or such other state may be accepted in lieu of a certificate of immunization and shall exempt the child from the requirement of obtaining a certificate of immunization until the disability is relieved.
- This Code section shall not apply to a child whose parent or legal guardian objects to immunization of the child on the grounds that the immunization conflicts with the religious beliefs of the parent or guardian; however, the immunization may be required in cases when such disease is in epidemic stages. For a child to be exempt from immunization on religious grounds, the parent or guardian must first furnish the responsible official of the school or facility an affidavit in which the parent or guardian swears or affirms that the immunization required conflicts with the religious beliefs of the parent or guardian.
- During an epidemic or a threatened epidemic of any disease preventable by an immunization required by the Department of Public Health, children who have not been immunized may be excluded from the school or facility until (1) they are immunized against the disease, unless they present valid evidence of prior disease, or (2) the epidemic or threat no longer constitutes a significant public health danger.
- The requirement of a certificate of immunization shall become effective for all children entering or attending facilities on or after April 7, 1981. The certification requirement shall apply to all children entering or attending schools:
- On September 1, 1981, for all such children entering or attending kindergarten or the first, ninth, tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grades, or of the equivalent ages if grade divisions are not used;
- On September 1, 1982, for all such children entering or attending all grades, or of all ages if grade divisions are not used.
- Any responsible official permitting any child to remain in a school or facility in violation of this Code section, and any parent or guardian who intentionally does not comply with this Code section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $100.00 or by imprisonment for not more than 12 months. The Department of Public Health may adopt rules and regulations for the enforcement of this Code section. The Department of Public Health and the local board of health, or either of them, may institute a civil action in the superior court of the county in which the defendant resides for injunctive relief to prevent a threatened or continuing violation of any provision of this Code section.
(Ga. L. 1880-81, p. 98, § 1; Ga. L. 1919, p. 288, § 87; Code 1933, § 32-911; Ga. L. 1946, p. 206, § 2; Ga. L. 1957, p. 455, § 1; Ga. L. 1964, p. 499, § 6; Ga. L. 1968, p. 1436, § 1; Ga. L. 1972, p. 1069, § 3; Ga. L. 1973, p. 910, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1978, p. 941, § 1; Ga. L. 1979, p. 1284, § 1; Ga. L. 1981, p. 756, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 319, § 1; Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, § 1-4/HB 228; Ga. L. 2011, p. 705, § 6-3/HB 214; Ga. L. 2013, p. 135, § 12/HB 354.)Law reviews.
- For article on the 2011 amendment of this Code section, see 28 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 147 (2011). For comment, "Public Health vs. Patient Rights: Reconciling Informed Consent with HPR Vaccination," see 58 Emory L.J. 761 (2009).JUDICIAL DECISIONS
Right to lodge religious objection to a child's immunization pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-771(e), O.C.G.A. § 31- 12-3(b), or O.C.G.A. § 49-4-183(b)(10)(C) was not a residual right of the child's parents under O.C.G.A. § 15-11-13; thus, the mother of a child found to be deprived could not object to the immunization of the child on religious grounds. In the Interest of C.R., 257 Ga. App. 159, 570 S.E.2d 609 (2002).Parents obligated to send children to school under rules fixed by authorities.
- Statutes impose upon the parents of school age children the duty of sending the parents' children to school and upon the school authorities the duty of fixing the rules and regulations under which the children shall attend. Anderson v. State, 84 Ga. App. 259, 65 S.E.2d 848 (1951) (decided under former Code 1933, § 32-911, prior to revision by Ga. L. 1981, p. 756, § 1).OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Students in public schools must be vaccinated against poliomyelitis and smallpox unless the students are exempt by reason of religion or health. 1962 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 424.Exemption does not conflict with required examination for participation in interscholastic athletic activities.
- Since the subject matter of this section is compulsory medical treatment (i.e., immunization), the limited exemption provided in connection with "religious beliefs" does not conflict with the State Board of Education policy or standard which requires a student to be examined by a physician as a condition of his or her participation in interscholastic athletic activities. 1977 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 77-78.
Section, strictly construed, applies only to county boards of education and should not be extended by construction or implication so as to repeal or amend the constitutional and statutory provisions applicable to the powers of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to make rules and regulations with respect to entrance requirements for any of the state's institutions, including admission requirements concerning physical examinations, vaccination against smallpox, and immunization against tetanus and poliomyelitis. 1960-61 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 571 (decided under former Code 1933, § 32-911, prior to revision by Ga. L. 1981, p. 756, § 1).
Am. Jur. 2d.
- 68 Am. Jur. 2d, Schools, § 344 et seq.C.J.S.
- 78A C.J.S., Schools and School Districts, § 1005 et seq.ALR.
- Power of municipal or school authorities to prescribe vaccination or other health measure as a condition of school attendance, 93 A.L.R. 1413.
Power of court or other public agency to order medical treatment over parental religious objections for child whose life is not immediately endangered, 21 A.L.R.5th 248.