Vaccine Requirements in K-12 Schools

Matthew Willis
Research Analyst

Jessa Farmer
Senior Research Analyst


First enacted in 1961, Kansas statute requires all children enrolled in a school or school-operated program to provide proof of vaccination for diseases as deemed necessary by the Secretary of Health and Environment (Secretary). Should proof of the required vaccinations not be provided for the child, then an alternative certificate qualifying them for an exemption must be provided, or the local school board has the authority to exclude the child from attending the school or school operated program.

Kansas Statute

Contained in KSA 72-6262 et seq., Kansas law requires proof of vaccination for all students enrolling for the first time in a school(1), preschool, day care program operated by a school, or as designated by the Secretary. Certification must be from a licensed physician or local health department and detail that the student has received all tests and vaccines as deemed necessary by the Secretary. The current list of required tests and vaccines can be found in KAR 28-1-20 and any changes to the list are required to go through the rules and regulations process.

Students may be exempt from providing certification if, as an alternative, they provide the school with an annual written statement from a licensed physician that their physical condition is such that one or more of the required tests or vaccinations would “seriously endanger the life or health of the child”. The student would also be exempt if they provide written certification from at least one parent or guardian that the student is an adherent to a religious denomination whose beliefs are opposed to the tests or vaccinations.

Should the student be unable or unwilling to provide proof of the tests and vaccinations and also unable or unwilling to provide an alternative certification to exempt them from the requirements, then KSA 72-6265 gives local school boards the authority(2) to exclude the student from attendance at the school, preschool, or day care program until they provide one of the previously discussed certifications. Such an exclusion policy must include a requirement to provide the student’s parent or guardian with written notice that details the reasoning for exclusion, that it shall continue until compliance has been met, and that a hearing shall be afforded should the parent or guardian wish it.

Vaccine Exemptions by State

Recent Action

The most recent bill before the Legislature regarding student immunizations was 2020 HB 2601. The bill, as introduced, would have codified the vaccination list currently in KAR 28-1-20 as a requirement for all children attending maternity and child care facilities governed by KSA 65-508 and students attending schools governed by KSA 72-6262. The bill would have also allowed the Secretary to only add new immunizations to the required list if they find there is “an imminent hazard to the public safety” and such rule and regulation would expire on July 1 of the following calendar year. Finally, the bill would have authorized the Secretary to remove any tests or vaccines from the list should they determine the immunization is no longer necessary or is unsafe.

Other States

All states require children attending child care centers and schools to be vaccinated against specific diseases. Alabama, California, New Hampshire, and South Dakota require the fewest, at 7 vaccinations, while Rhode Island requires the most, with 13 vaccinations. The average number of required vaccinations by a state is 9. Kansas requires 10 vaccines for children and students.

All 50 states provide at least one type of exemption from mandatory vaccine requirements. Six states, California, Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi, New York, and West Virginia only allow medical exemptions from vaccines. All other states allow a combination of medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions from mandatory vaccines.

Number of Required Vaccines by State

Number of Required VaccinesStates
7Alabama, California, New Hampshire, South Dakota
8Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin
9Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming
10Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia
11Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota
13Rhode Island
  1. KSA 72-6261 defines a “school” as “all elementary, junior high, or high schools within the state.”
  2. The statute gives the local school board authority to delegate this power to an employee or committee of employees to make determinations in its stead.