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December 12, 2013

Changes To Personal Beliefs Exemption for School Vaccine Requirements

Researched and Written Jointly by HSLDA and Family Protection Ministries

In January 2014 a new change in the law (AB 2109) will affect all K-12 public and private school students in California, including all homeschooled students. The new law for required vaccinations for school attendance will go into effect January 1, 2014. This new law will require parents desiring a personal beliefs exemption from any or all required vaccinations for their child to have a consultation appointment with a specified health care provider before the exemption can be completed. The purpose of this article is to explain how parents can help their school age children comply with the new law.

Important: Window of Opportunity Rapidly Closing

The following three groups of homeschooling parents who desire for their children to be exempted from any or all mandated vaccines will not be required to file the burdensome new form CDPH 8262 if they immediately take the action steps below before January 1, 2014:

  1. Children enrolled in and attending school but whose parents have not completed the back side of the PM 286B form.
  2. Children who will enroll in a California school for the first time either because they are old enough to enroll or have moved in from another state (see Q and A Section numbers 5 and 8 below regarding children below the compulsory age of six).
  3. Children currently at the 6th grade level but promoted into and receiving instruction in the 7th grade before January 1, 2014 (see Q and A Section numbers 14 and 15 below).

Immediate Action Steps

  1. If you haven’t completed the back side of the PM 286B do so now, before this coming January 1, 2014. At a minimum, fill out the name and address information at the top of the front side of the PM 286B form and the personal beliefs affidavit section on the back. In addition, if your child is in (or is entering before January 1, 2014) the 7th grade or above and you desire that he or she also be exempted from the required Tdap vaccination (for students in grades 7-12), you must also have a CDPH 8261 form on file. For details see section below “Vaccination Exemption Requirements Prior To January 1, 2014.”
  2. If you are enrolling and instructing your child in your own private school make sure you file a private school affidavit (see HSLDA’s website instructions on filing an affidavit.)
  3. If you have not already, begin instruction before this coming January 1.
  4. If not a member, join HSLDA so that you can get help from them on these and other homeschool related legal questions.

Everyone else has action steps due at other times after January 1, 2014. For details read this article.

Who Must File the New CDPH 8262 Form

Although the requirements of AB 2109 go into effect on January 1, 2014, most parents or guardians of school age children will not be required to do anything until just prior to the 2014-2015 school year, usually beginning in late August or September. Only the following families in Category 3 below who have a desire to have their child exempted from one or more vaccinations will be required to file the additional new CDPH 8262 form some time between this January 2014 and June 2014 of this 2013-2014 school year.

All Families Are in 1 of 4 Categories Regarding the New CDPH 8262 Form

Category 1: Persons who don’t want to exempt their child from any of the school vaccine requirements

They will not be required to file the new exemption form CDPH 8262. They will, however, continue to be required to keep the shot record portion on the front side of PM 286B up to date.

Category 2: Persons who will not be required to file the new CDPH 8262 form (for those desiring a vaccine exemption for their child)

  1. A family whose children are all in 8th grade or above and has already filed a PM 286B and a CDPH 8261 form (not to be confused with the new CDPH 8262 form) by December 31, 2013.
  2. Parents of a child enrolled in and being instructed in the 7th grade before January 1, 2014 and has already filed a PM 286B and a CDPH 8261 form before January 1, 2014 will not have to file the new form CDPH 8262 for that child.
  3. Parents of a child enrolled in and being instructed in any grade K-6 who have already filed a PM 286B before January 1, 2014 will not have to file the new form CDPH 8262 until that child reaches 7th grade.

Category 3: Persons who must file the new CDPH 8262 form between January and June 2014 (for those desiring a vaccine exemption for their child)

  1. A family with a child that transfers into a California private or public school between January and June 2014 from an out-of-state school.
  2. A family with a child that enters 7th grade between January and June 2014.
  3. A family with a child who, for any reason, enrolls for the first time in a California public or private school at any grade level between January and June 2014.
  4. A family who has failed, for any reason, to fill out and file the Personal Beliefs exemption on the back of the PM 286B or who has failed to complete and keep on file form CDPH 8261 (for exemption to Tdap vaccine) for a child in any grade 7-12 before January 1, 2014.

Category 4: Persons who must file the new CDPH 8262 form before or during the 2014-2015 school year (for those desiring a vaccine exemption for their child)

  1. A family with a child that transfers into a California private or public school in the 2014-2015 school year or later from an out-of-state school.
  2. A family with a child that enters 7th grade in the 2014-2015 school year or later.
  3. A family with a child who, for any reason, enrolls for the first time in a California public or private school at any grade level during the 2014-2015 school year or later.
  4. 4) A family who has failed, for any reason, to fill out and file the Personal Beliefs exemption on the back of the PM 286B or who has failed to complete and keep on file form CDPH 8261 (for exemption to Tdap vaccine) for a child in any grade 7-12 before January 1, 2014.

Many more children will fall under Category 4 than Category 3 because students typically enter school or change grade levels at the beginning of the school year (August-September).

Please also see the “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” section at the bottom of this article.

Background of AB 2109

AB 2109 was passed and signed into law in 2012. We at HSLDA and FPM vigorously opposed AB 2109 as an infringement on parental rights and were saddened by its passage into law. AB 2109 created an additional requirement for parents who choose to exercise the right to a personal beliefs waiver to exempt their child from one or more of the vaccinations required for school enrollment.

AB 2109 requires a parent to obtain the signature of a doctor or other specified health care provider, stating that the health care provider has provided the parents or guardians with information about the benefits and risks of vaccinations and about specified communicable diseases, before their child can be exempted from any required vaccination. This will apply to all children regardless of what type of school they are in, including a private homeschool. The parental signature on the personal beliefs exemption form (on the back side of PM 286B) will continue to be required but, by itself, will no longer be enough.

AB 2109 directed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to create a new required additional form that would include all the requirements created by this new legislation. In October 2013, the CDPH published the new form (CDPH 8262) that must be filed in order for a child to be exempted from any or all required vaccinations after January 1, 2014. The filing of this new form (CDPH 8262), together with the PM 286B form, will be the standard vaccination exemption process for all students from January 1, 2014 on.

Although it was not written into the law in AB 2109, Governor Brown directed the CDPH to add a Religious Exemption to this form, separate from the Personal Beliefs Exemption and Medical Exemption. The Religious Exemption is on the new CDPH 8262 form along with the Personal Beliefs Exemption, but the two exemptions are unrelated.

In order to use the Religious Exemption, a parent or guardian must sign, attesting to the following statement: “I am a member of a religion which prohibits me from seeking medical advice or treatment from authorized health care practitioners.” The wording of this religious exemption leaves almost all parents ineligible for this option. If the parent or guardian signs this statement, no signature from a health care practitioner is required on the form. However, the Religious Exemption will not be a suitable exemption for Christian parents who do consult doctors and other authorized health care practitioners.

Vaccination Exemption Requirements Prior to January 1, 2014

All K-12 students in a public or private school, including homeschools, must have a PM 286B form in their cumulative file. The PM 286B form is available from your local county health department or you can download it for printing.

Important: See section below “Means of Filing.” The front side of this form is the record of vaccinations received, and the back side of this form must be completed by the parents for those students whose parents desire them to be exempted from any or all required vaccinations for school attendance. In addition, if your child is in (or is entering before January 1, 2014) the 7th grade or above and you desire that he or she be exempted from the required Tdap vaccination, you must also have a CDPH 8261 form dated before January 1, 2014 and kept on file after January 1, 2014. The CDPH 8261 form is available online.

Vaccination Exemption Requirements after January 1, 2014

In addition to the PM 286B requirements of current law, after January 1, 2014, the process for receiving any new vaccination exemptions for first school enrollment or entry into the 7th grade must be documented with a new form (CDPH 8262). This form requires an appointment to be made with an authorized health care practitioner who will provide information about required vaccinations. The health care provider must sign the CDPH 8262 form certifying that this information has been provided to the child’s parents or guardians in order for the child to be exempted. Once completed, this form will be turned in to the school administrator by the parent. In the case of private schools based in the home consisting of one family, the parent (as the school administrator) will file this CDPH 8262 form in the cumulative file created for the child.

Note: After January 1, 2014, CDPH 8261 (personal beliefs exemption for Tdap for 7-12 grade students) will no longer be required for those who have a completed and signed CDPH 8262 form on file. Any form CDPH 8261 form dated on or after January 1, 2014 will not be valid. However, any form CDPH 8261 form dated before January 1, 2014 (for children in grades 7-12) will remain valid after January 1, 2014 and should remain in the child’s cumulative file.

How to Proceed

Some people are being told by doctors, nurses, and school officials that there is no longer any option for a personal beliefs exemption or that certain vaccinations cannot be declined. All parents can become prepared to respond to such false statements and know what they can do to properly attain a vaccination exemption by reading this article in its entirety.

Which Forms Must be Completed and Filed for an Exemption to Vaccine Requirements

The PM 286B form continues to be universally required for every K-12 student in California.

Every public and private school in California, including those private schools based in the home (i.e. private homeschooling), will continue to be required to maintain an up-to-date copy of the front side of the two-sided California School Immunization Record (form PM 286B—the “Blue Card”) as a part of each student’s permanent school record (i.e., cumulative file). Fill out the name and address information at the top of the front side of the PM 286B form and the personal beliefs affidavit section on the back. The PM 286B form is available from your local county health department or you can download it for printing.

Parents or guardians who desire their children to be exempted from any or all vaccinations required for school entry (and attendance) will also need to:

  1. Sign and date the Personal Beliefs Affidavit on the back side of the PM 286B form, and
  2. Have the CDPH 8262 form completed and kept on file starting January 1, 2014.

In order to complete the CDPH 8262 form, parents must make an appointment with an authorized health care practitioner in order to receive information about vaccinations and to attain a signature on the CDPH 8262 form (which you should print out and bring with you) from the authorized health care practitioner. The new law requires this CDPH 8262 form to be filed two times for every student in California whose parents desire a personal beliefs exemption for any or all required vaccinations: once upon initial enrollment in a school in California (K-12 grades), and again upon entry into 7th grade.

Means of Filing Required Forms

In general, there are a variety of forms that you can fill out online and click a “submit” button, which stores the information you entered on the Internet. This is why we do not recommend using any online service like the Immunization Registry program such as CAIR, which would result in children’s private information being entered into a bureaucratic database vulnerable to being accessed. Parents should seriously consider avoiding filling out any form online in which the name and information about their child is required.

In a campus school or a PSP, any form is considered filed when it is properly completed and delivered to the school administrator or their designee. The school administrator is then responsible to make sure that the form is kept as a part of each student’s permanent school record (i.e., cumulative file). For a single family private school (homeschool), the form is considered filed when you the parent file it, as the administrator of your own school, in your child’s permanent record folder (i.e., cumulative file).

When to Complete and File the New Form

The CDPH 8262 must be completed, signed, and dated by an authorized health care practitioner (see below) prior to being filed. All families (who fall in either Category 3 or 4 above) that are required to file the new signed and dated CDPH 8262 form must do so by the time their child starts school but not more than six months before their enrollment date in a new school year or a new grade level.

Find a Parent-Friendly Authorized Health Care Practitioner

Types of health care providers authorized to sign the new Personal Beliefs Exemption form (CDPH 8262):

  • Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Physician Assistant
  • Naturopathic Doctor
  • Credentialed School Nurse

Parents should begin now to find a compassionate and authorized health care practitioner (see list above). There are several reasons for this. First, there is a likelihood that many will face difficulties getting the CDPH 8262 form signed by an authorized health care practitioner. Second, there is no requirement for any health care practitioner to give your family an appointment, either because of their opposition to vaccination exemptions or their overfilled schedule. Additionally, there is no requirement for the health care practitioner to sign the form after you kept and paid for the appointment.

We suggest that a parent-friendly health care provider is one who treats children, is parent-friendly, and will be supportive of your choice if you should decide to exempt your children (with a Personal Beliefs Waiver) from one or more of the required vaccines for school entrance. Unless your children are all already in the 7th grade or above, you will eventually have to have this form signed. There are other very important reasons to find a parent and family-friendly doctor for your children and your family—one who will get to know you as a family and respects your role and responsibilities as the parent of your own children.

Some of the policies recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (an association of many pediatricians), which are consistent with their promotion of AB 2109, are considered by many to be unfriendly to the rights and privacy of parents and their children. However, there are some good pediatricians out there who are supportive of the parental right to choose to use the Personal Beliefs Waiver. Many parents choose to have a general practice family doctor treat the whole family, including their young children. Take the initiative to ask around to see if others have found a parent-friendly health care provider who will sign a personal beliefs waiver or do an online search or search the Yellow Pages under the different categories of health care practitioners listed above. Some support groups will want to keep a list of possible parent-friendly physicians in their area.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

This entire article is written for parents who desire to exempt their children from one or more of the required school vaccinations. Each of the questions below assumes that question came from a private homeschooling parent who desires a vaccination exemption for their child. There are details and situations covered in the following Q&A section that is not covered above. The answers to these questions presume that you have read all of the previous parts of this article.

Some of the following material may be difficult to understand if you have not read the entire article up to this point. These are questions that we anticipate may be common regarding Personal Beliefs Exemptions. Two major sources for the answers to these questions include the FAQs on the Shots for School website and the text of the law changed by AB 2109 in 2012. The Shots for Schools website is owned and operated by the California Department of Public Health, the department responsible for implementing AB 2109.

General Questions

Q1. What if my child already has a Personal Belief Exemption PM 286B form filed?

A1. If your child already has a Personal Belief Exemption PM 286B form filed by December 31, 2013, you will not need to file the CDPH 8262 form until your child reaches the 7th grade. If your child has already entered 7th grade and has the Personal Belief Exemption signed before January 1, 2014 on their PM 286B form and their CDPH 8261 form signed before January 1, 2014 and also on file , then you will never need to file a CDPH 8262 form for that child. Note: After January 1, 2014, CDPH 8261 (personal beliefs exemption for Tdap for 7-12 grade students) will no longer be required for those who have a completed and signed CDPH 8262 form on file. Any form CDPH 8261 form dated on or after January 1, 2014 will not be valid. However, any form CDPH 8261 form dated before January 1, 2014 (for children in grades 7-12) will remain valid after January 1, 2014 and should remain in the child’s cumulative file.

Q2. Do I have to file the CDPH 8262 form annually for each of my children?

A2. No, the Personal Belief Exemption CDPH 8262 form must be filed for each student once at the time of first enrollment into a California school (any grade K-12) and once upon entrance to 7th grade. This is a total of two times during a full K-12 academic career in California. For further information, refer to the previous section in this article, “Who Must File The New Form.”

Q3. I never paid attention to the vaccination paperwork before and I never had any exemption form on file at all. However, I now want to make sure I am fully in line with the legal requirements of a private school. This year (2013), I have my three children counted on my affidavit as a 9th grader, a 6th grader, and a 3rd grader. What forms do I need to file?

A3. If you file the paperwork before January 1, 2014, you can file a separate PM 286B form for each of your three officially enrolled children (as well as a CDPH 8261 form for any child in grades 7-12) and avoid having to get a doctor’s or other authorized health care provider’s signature in order to get the exemption for children who are in any grade K-6 on December 31, 2013 until each enters the 7th grade for the first time (Also see Q&A numbers 1, 4, 14 and 15). If you file the paperwork after January 1, 2014, you will be required to file a separate new CDPH 8262 form for each of your three children in addition to the back side of the PM 286B form for each child.

Q4. We just moved to California and would like to homeschool. Do we need to file the new CDPH 8262 form or can we just use the exemption on the back side of the old PM 286B form?

A4: Yes, you may rely on only using the PM 286B form but only if you both complete the form and begin schooling before January 1, 2014. In addition, if your child is in (or is entering before January 1, 2014) the 7th grade or above and you desire that he or she be exempted from the required Tdap vaccination, you must also have a CDPH 8261 form on file to avoid having to file the CDPH 8262 (see also Q and A number 1). However, if you wait until after December 31, 2014, you will have to complete and file the new CDPH 8262 form in addition to the back side of the PM 286B form for the purposes of exemption. The front side of the PM 286B form is to be completed and on file at the child’s school of attendance for every K-12 student. (Also see Q&A No. 1)

Questions about Kindergarten

Q5. I have an unofficial kindergartener who is below compulsory education (attendance) age and is not counted on the affidavit I file for my private school. What forms do I need to file?

A5. You do not have to file any exemption forms for your kindergartener until he is of compulsory school age or is formally enrolled in your own private school or in a PSP. We normally have encouraged private homeschoolers to not formally enroll their child (i.e. adding to your private school affidavit count) until reaching the compulsory attendance age of 6. However, there is a unique one-time option that will end on December 31, 2013. Before January 1, 2014, you could enroll your unofficial kindergartener into your private school for which you have filed an affidavit if they are at least 4 years and 9 months old. (See Q&A #18 for how to enroll a student.) If you do this, you will be able to file only the PM 286B form instead of the new CDPH 8262 form as long as you file the PM 286B form by December 31, 2013. (See Q&A No. 11) For further information on compulsory school age, please read this article.

Q6. My child is already enrolled in a private kindergarten (not a part of my private homeschool), but I am going to privately homeschool my child next year beginning in the fall for first grade. What should I do?

A6. In order to be enrolled in the private kindergarten, your child should already either have received all the required vaccines or already have a completed PM 286B exemption form on file. If your child had this exemption form on file at the private kindergarten, you should receive the required exemption form (PM 286B) when the kindergarten turns over your child’s cumulative file to you. If you first enrolled your child into the private kindergarten after January 1, 2014, then the private kindergarten should also require a completed CDPH 8262 form for your child and this form would also be sent to you as part of your child’s cumulative file. You will not have to file any new exemption forms until you are required to file another CDPH 8262 form when your child is entering 7th grade.

Questions about Elementary School (Grades 1–5)

Q7. My child is in 2nd grade and already has a Personal Belief Exemption (PM 286B) in her file. When do I need to file this new CDPH 8262 form to keep her Personal Belief Exemption?

A7. Just once—when your child begins the 7th grade.

Q8. My child is 5 years old and not currently enrolled in school. I am planning to enroll her in 1st grade for the 2014-2015 school year. I am concerned about finding a doctor who will sign the form. Can I enroll her in school this year (2013) instead and use the PM 286B form?

A8. Yes. You will need to either enroll her in a PSP or establish a private school yourself before January 1, 2014. You would also have to fill out and sign the exemption on the back side of the PM 286B form that has a dated signature before January 1, 2014. It is your choice to enroll her either at the kindergarten level or at the 1st grade level. You are free to choose the curriculum and content that you deem right for your child. If you establish your own private school, be sure to file a private school affidavit—for information on how to do this please see HSLDA’s article on filing the affidavit. (See also Q&A #18).

Q9. My child is in 4th grade at a private school and has the old PM 286B exemption form filed there. The school has a PSP program for homeschooling however and next year I want to homeschool him through it. Will I need to file a new form?

A9. No. The private PSP school program should keep his current PM 286B exemption form on file, and you will not need to file the new CDPH 8262 form until your child is admitted into the 7th grade. It would be wise to request that your PSP administrator double check that the PM 286B exemption form is still in your child’s cumulative file.

Q10. My child is in 3rd grade at a public school, and I already signed the old PM 286B exemption form for him there. Since next school year we are going to homeschool, which forms do I need to have on file between next fall and when my child enters the 7th grade?

A10. Since the old PM 286B exemption form is part of your child’s cumulative file, the public school should turn over the form to you when you withdraw your child and place him in your own private homeschool but you should be careful to look through the cumulative file to confirm that the PM 286B form is present. Since you still have this PM 286B exemption form on file (completed before January 1, 2014) for your child, you do not need to file the new CDPH 8262 form until your child is entering 7th grade. Please read the following article with important information about withdrawing your child from public school.

Q11. My child will be in 1st grade next year, and I want my child to receive some vaccinations but not all of them. Do I need an exemption form?

A11. If you decline any or all of the mandated vaccinations you will need to have the required exemption forms on file. If your child enrolls in kindergarten or 1st grade before January 1, 2014, you can use only the back side of the old PM 286B form (with your signature dated on or before December 31, 2013) until he reaches 7th grade, when he will need to file the new CDPH 8262 form. If your child enrolls in school after January 1, 2014, you must also use the new CDPH 8262 exemption form (in addition to the PM 286B form) for your child’s first school enrollment and then again upon entry to the 7th grade.

Q12. My older child is in 3rd grade, and we already have the old PM 286B form in my home where we keep my children’s cumulative files. Can I use only the PM 286B form to exempt my younger child who is 5 years old and will be starting 1st grade next year?

A12. Yes, but only if you complete and sign the back of the PM 286B form and enroll your younger child before January 1, 2014 in your own private school at the 1st grade level. If you wait and enroll your younger student for the first time on or after January 1, 2014, you will need to file both the old PM 286B form and the new CDPH 8262 form for this child. The 3rd grade student who already has both sides of the PM 286B form filed does not need to file the new CDPH 8262 form at this time. However, when each student begins 7th grade they will need to file the CDPH 8262 form.

Questions about Middle School (Grades 6-8)

Q13. My child is in 8th grade at a private campus school and has the PM 286B and CDPH 8261 exemption forms filed there. However, I want to homeschool her myself next year. Will I need to file a form?

A13. No. When your child’s cumulative file is transferred to your private homeschool, her current PM 286B and CDPH 8261 exemption forms should be transferred to you as well. Your child is past the 7th grade, so you will never need to file the new CDPH 8262 form.

Q14. My child is in 7th grade, and I have the appropriate exemption forms on file. Next year do I need to file the new form for him?

A14. No. Since your child is already in the 7th grade and you have signed and dated the exemption section on the back side of the PM 286B form and on the CDPH 8261 form, both before January 1, 2014, you will never have to file the new CDPH 8262 form for this child (see also Q&A numbers 1, 4, and 15). The completed and signed forms: PM 286B (both sides) and CDPH 8261 must be kept on file by the student’s school of enrollment at least until the child has graduated from high school. It is wise to keep these forms a few years after high school graduation.

Q15. My son is in 6th grade and currently has a Personal Belief Exemption PM 286B form in his file. I would like to bump him to 7th grade by December 31. If I move him up to 7th grade by December 31 will I still need to file the new CDPH 8262 form the following year when he begins 8th grade?

A15. No. However, if you wait until after December 31 you will need to complete and file the new CDPH 8262 in addition to the PM 286B. If you bump him to the 7th grade and sign and date the back side of the PM 286B and the CDPH 8261 exemption forms before January 1, 2014, that will be sufficient (see also Q&A #1 and Q&A #18). However, if you bump him to the 7th grade on or after January 1, 2014, you will need to also file the new CDPH 8262 form.

Q16. My child is in 7th grade, and I have a PM 286B and a CDPH 8261 exemption form already on file. However, I think I want her to repeat the 7th grade. If she is repeating the 7th grade, do I need to file the new form?

A16. No. The new CDPH 8262 exemption form is only required once upon first initial admission into the 7th grade. A new CDPH 8262 form is not required since your child is already in the 7th grade (despite repeating the 7th grade).

Q17. As a Christian family, wouldn’t the Religious Exemption be more appropriate for us than the Personal Beliefs Exemption? Then we wouldn’t need to get a doctor’s signature, and this would be so much easier.

A17. The Religious Exemption does not apply to people just because they could be characterized as religious or practicing their religion. It only applies to those people who are members of a religious institution, denomination, or organized group whose official statement of belief or creed include a prohibition against ever seeing a doctor or receiving medical treatment of any kind, no matter how serious the health emergency. Would you take your child to a doctor or the emergency hospital if they were ill or injured? If the answer is yes, the Religious Exemption is not an option for you. (See the fourth paragraph of the “Background of AB 2109” section of this article.)

Q18. Do I need to amend my affidavit to add a new student? Do I need to amend my affidavit to change a current student’s grade level?

A18. No, just be sure to add them and/or reflect the new grade the next time you file the affidavit. You should also keep good records showing that your new student is enrolled in your school and/or showing the work your student is doing at the new grade level. The next filing period for private schools is October 1–15, 2014.