To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, all students must be fully immunized before entering school. Immunizations are the best defense against some of the most common and sometimes deadly infectious diseases. All students must have up-to-date immunization certification on file with the school within the first 20 school days or they will not be allowed to attend school or school activities until the immunization certification is secured by the school. Review this page to guarantee your students are ready for school.
FIND A FREE VACCINATION OPPORTUNITY NEAR YOU!
- School-Based Health Centers – Families with students age 3 and older can visit any School-Based Health Center for a free vaccination-only appointment regardless of where the student is enrolled. Families should call the School-Based Health Center directly to schedule an appointment or pre-register using the registration link here. Visit the DC Health website to learn more.
- Mobile Vaccination Units – DC Health has placed free mobile medical units at schools and additional sites at recreation centers, COVID Centers, and other community locations in all eight wards. Dates and locations can be found here. Families can pre-register for the free mobile vaccination units by using the registration link. (also available in Spanish - Español)
- Vaccination Block Parties – Children’s National is hosting free school-based immunization clinics every Saturday in the months of August and September. In addition to free vaccines, there will be food trucks, raffles, giveaways and more! Staff will be available to answer questions about immunizations. Families should pre-register for an immunization appointment using the registration link.
- COVID Centers – The COVID-19 vaccine is available for free to any individual age 6 months and older at the District’s COVID Centers located in all eight wards. More information on accessing the COVID-19 vaccine is available on the District’s coronavirus website.
District law and regulations require all schools in the District of Columbia, including private, parochial and independent schools, to verify student compliance with the immunization requirements as part of enrollment and attendance. If a student is not compliant, the school must immediately notify the parent, guardian, or adult student in writing of the missing immunization(s). If the student does not come into compliance within a 20-school day period, the school must remove the student from school until the immunization certification is secured by the school.
All public and public charter schools are required to implement the immunization attendance policy. OSSE has developed and revised the following resources to support schools with implementing the immunization attendance policy:
- Immunization Attendance Policy (July 2022)
- Immunization Attendance Policy Training (July 2022)
- Early Access to Immunization Data Application Training
- FAQs for Schools (July 2022)
- One-Pager: Six Steps to a Fully Immunized School
- School Health Team
- Immunization Decision Tree
- Best Practices for School Leaders
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccination Requirements for DC Schools (July 2022)
- COVID-19 Vaccination Compliance Steps (July 2022)
- Sample Notification Letters and Packet for Non-Compliant Students
- Sample Media Kit for Schools and Community-Based Organizations (July 2022)
- Information on access to care for families enrolled in DC Medicaid
- Immunization Education
Immunizations and regular visits to the physician help protect a student’s health and readiness to learn. Schools are required to verify every student’s immunization compliance as part of enrollment and attendance. All students must be up to date on their immunizations or risk being removed from school.
The following documents offer more information and resources for families:
- FAQs for Families (June 2022)
- One-Pager for Families (May 2021)
- Español | Amharic (አማርኛ) | French (Français) | Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt) | Korean (한국어) | Chinese (中文)
- Welcome to Kindergarten One-Pager for Families (May 2021)
- DC School Immunization Requirements
- DC Health Immunization Program
- Universal Health Certificate
- Pediatric Immunization Locations | Pediatric Immunization Community Facilities
- HPV Opt-Out Form
- CDC: Six Things You Need to Know about Vaccines
- CDC: Making the Vaccine Decision: Addressing Common Concerns
- CDC: Facts About HPV
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens
- CDC: Six Things to Know about COVID-19 Vaccination for Children
- CDC: Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination for Children and Teens
- Information on access to care for families enrolled in DC Medicaid
If families need access to health insurance, please visit the DC Health Link website or contact the Citywide Call Center by dialing 3-1-1.
For more information on health forms required for school attendance, please visit the OSSE Student Health Form Requirements for School Attendance page.
Important coronavirus (COVID-19) note for families: Schools are undertaking extraordinary efforts to ensure safe, healthy environments for students, staff and families during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery periods. Ensuring that all students are up-to-date on their immunizations is an essential part of that commitment to health and safety. To support the health of students, staff and the broader community, schools must ensure that all students are fully immunized. Health care providers are taking extra precautions to ensure health and safety in their offices. Such practices may include screening patients, parents/guardians and staff for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to arrival, separating sick and well patients, implementing enhanced cleaning protocols, and limiting the number of adults that may accompany a child to an appointment. If families have questions about the COVID-19 health and safety practices of their health care provider, they are encouraged to call their provider ahead of their appointment and ask.
Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, the COVID-19 vaccine is required for school enrollment and attendance in the District of Columbia for all students who are of an age for which there is a COVID-19 vaccination fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As of July 8, 2022, there is a fully approved COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 12 and older.
All DC residents age 6 months and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For COVID-19 vaccine opportunities, visit vaccinate.dc.gov or call the COVID-19 Call Center at 1-855-363-0333. For deaf/hard-of-hearing individuals, dial 711 for TTY service. For any questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine program, please email [email protected].
Schools may contact their local education agency (LEA) central office or OSSE at [email protected] with questions regarding the immunization attendance policy.
Schools may contact DC Health with questions regarding immunization certification requirements, data, and locations where students can receive pediatric immunizations. Schools participating in the DC Health School Health Services Program may rely on support from their health suite personnel to help communicate and implement pediatric immunization requirements.
OSSE is committed to helping child development facilities, LEAs, schools and families plan effectively to remain open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring all students are up to date on their routine pediatric immunizations before returning to school is an essential component for the COVID-19 recovery period. OSSE's COVID-19 Guidance and Resources page offers resources, information and supports related to maintaining healthy and safe school and child care environments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators, families, and the public may find information about public health and safety at coronavirus.dc.gov.
Important note: The flu vaccine (flu shot) is not mandatory for school, but it is strongly recommended for all students and staff. Schools should continue to emphasize the importance and benefits of securing the flu shot for all families each fall and winter season. For individuals looking for where to secure a flu shot or other vaccines, please refer to the DC Health pediatric clinic locations or adult immunization programs.