January 11, 2008

Health Department Seeks Immunization Records

In October of this school year, the Madison County Health Department contacted church schools in the county and requested that they complete an immunization survey form. This request was based on an annual immunization survey conducted by the Alabama Department of Public Health. One of the church schools, Covenant Christian Academy of Huntsville, contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for guidance as to whether this reporting was required by state law.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the health department after reviewing the rules of the state board of health. Black's letter stated as follows:

In reviewing the provisions of 420-6-1-.02(1) of the Rules of the State Board of Health which you faxed to [the church school], I note that the board of education of a public school and the governing authority of each private school must require all pupils to present a certificate of immunization prior to enrollment. There are exceptions for a religious objection and medical contraindications. However, the law does not appear to require pupils attending a church school, such as Covenant Christian Academy, to present a certificate of immunization prior to enrollment. Unless you can provide Covenant Christian Academy with some legal authority indicating that church schools are subject to this requirement, there is no basis for them to do so.
Additionally, my research indicates that even private schools are not required by state law to report to the County Health Department any information about the immunizations of their pupils. Accordingly, even if church schools were required to receive a certificate of immunizations prior to admitting a child, there appears to be no legal requirement for this information to be reported to state agencies. If you are aware of any law to the contrary, please be so kind as to provide us with a copy of it.

After receiving Black’s letter, the health department made no further attempts to obtain the immunization information. HSLDA is prepared to assist any of our member families in Alabama whose church schools are requested to provide immunization information about their children to state officials.