Military Vaccine Exemptions for Children

UPDATED 03/19/2017 – Joint Instruction (previously updated 10/06/2016, 03/18/14)

UPDATED 10/16/2016 – DoDEA Exemption form link updated (previously updated 03/18/14)

UPDATED 8/21/2015 with DoDEA school registration information (at the end)

Last year with hubby deploying I wanted to be able to use the Child Development Center’s drop in service for appointments and their Give Parents a Break ‘date nights’. With my children not up to date on their vaccinations according to regulations, I needed to get their exemptions in line. Although we live in Utah and Utah has all three exemptions (medical, religious, and philosophical), the military only accepts medical and religious (I was told initially that they would ONLY accept medical, but knowing that wasn’t true, I researched further on what I would need).

Although the question doesn’t come up very often, it does come up. It’s not too hard to explain, just involves a lot of forms (thankyoumilitary) so I thought I’d just write a post I can refer people to.

The regulation is in the following PDF:

https://health.mil/Policies/2013/10/07/Immunizations-and-Chemoprophylaxis-for-the-Prevention-of-Infectious-Diseases(UPDATED LINK 03/19/2017)

The section pertaining to the CDC, FCC and other base activities is on page 12, section 3-5b:

(b) Children attending DOD and USCG-sponsored primary and secondary schools, childcare centers, or similar facilites are required to be up to date on all age appropriate ACIP-recommended vaccines for children unless there is a documentation of previous immunization, religious exemption, or medical contraindication. For foreign-national children outside of the United States, observe host country recommendations or requirements.

What I did for my process is started with DoDEA Form 2943. I filled it out, and in the ‘reason’ section (section 4) I wrote”

(Form is now http://www.dodea.edu/TarawaTerraceES/upload/dodea-exemption-shots.pdf) (UPDATED 10/17/16)

To whom it may concern;
(We / I) {First and Last name(s)}, as the {(parent (s) / guardian(s)} of ______________________(name of child) are exercising (our/my) rights under the US Constitution, Army Regulation 40-562, BUMEDINST 6230.15A, AF JI 48-110, CG COMDTINST M6230.4F , section 3.2, para4, and Army Regulation 608-10, section 4-6, para 2, to receive Religious Exemption from Vaccination, due to our genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to the practices herein required.
The U.S. Supreme Court held in Frazee V. Illinois Dept. of Security, 489 U.S. 829, that a religious belief is subject to protection even though no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not advocate or require such belief. This ruling is also reflected in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended Nov. 1, 1980; Part 1605.1-Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion.
Sincerely,
Your signature.
Date

After turning in the form with page 10 from the regulations, with the religious exemption part highlighted, they requested a letter from clergy. According to what I know, a letter from clergy is NOT required for civilians, only for active duty, but I complied with the request. While I was working on getting that letter, I sent them the following:

To Whom It May Concern:

I understand that you have requested a letter from my clergy regarding my religious reasons for not vaccinating my children for their exemption forms for the CDC and FCC offices here at Hill Air Force Base.

I wanted to update you and let you know that although it is my understanding that clergy / chaplain letters are ONLY required for those who are ACTIVE DUTY and requesting exemption (NOT their dependents), I am in the process of acquiring the requested letter. My leader is in contact with the local higher-ups to confirm what the official stance is.

However, I’d like to remind you of the following, found in the 2006 edition of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29, part 1605 (enclosed) which states:

“The fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief will not determine whether the belief is a religious belief…”

So, should it come back that the local heads of my church have no official stance that backs my religious beliefs, that does not negate them.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly.

I felt it was important to remind them that should it turn out that there is no official stance my church leaders can take (which was the case) that that did NOT negate my beliefs. In my case, I was fortunate in that one of the base chaplains that we had been in contact with was willing to write a letter to the effect that he had talked with us and believed that our beliefs that our children should not be vaccinated were sincere.

The letter and all the forms or whatever they fill out went up the chain of command and we eventually got a response back that our exemptions were processed.

Now. Does this mean all is peaches and roses? No. The CDC has the right (which they have exercised) to refuse my children admittance in the case of an ‘outbreak’. The one time I was ready to drop them off for Give Parents a Break, there had been a case of chicken pox. It didn’t matter that I didn’t feel it was an issue, they were still allowed to / required to not admit my children since they had not been vaccinated for chicken pox.

UPDATE: AUGUST 2015

It’s been a few years since I wrote this and our situation as changed a bit with both kids being school age now and with having moved overseas (which was NO issue at all, the questions of vaccines didn’t even really come up).

I just wanted to quickly say that so far our experience with registering the kids for school has been a piece of cake. For an on base DoDEA school overseas in Japan, all I had to do was fill out the DoDEA form (http://www.dodea.edu/StudentServices/upload/2011_2942_0_M_F4.pdf) and wrote “We do not vaccinate for religious reasons” in section 4.

That’s it. School nurse didn’t bat an eyelash, just said ‘thank you’.

We’ve done this three times now with no issue at all. In fact, I wound up having a nice short conversation the last time and it basically came down that the nurse agreed that parents had the right to refuse and that was okay. 🙂

I have not yet attempted to register them with the CDC here for either Give Parents a Break or for the School Age program as it simply hasn’t come up yet. If I do, I will update this again to reflect my experience.

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58 thoughts on “Military Vaccine Exemptions for Children

    1. It’s the same one. When you open the document, if you look at all the abbreviations, the Navy one is in there as well. BUMEDINST 6230.15A is the document number for the Navy.

  1. Hi, I am an AD AF wife with an unvaxed baby, living overseas. I LOVE this site and have it listed in the resources page for a new FB group I started for none/select/delay vax support JUST for military families. I would love it if you would join our group – we just started and have several members all over the world. Thank you for the information above and for helping so many military families that are trying to be prepared. Thanks again! https://www.facebook.com/groups/vaxsupportmil/

    1. Hello! I am hoping to be added to the Facebook group mentioned. I just enrolled my son in an on base CDC and am looking for guidance on what to expect with the necessary exemption paperwork. We follow an alternative schedule but that’s obviously not going to fly with the CDC. Thank you!

    2. Hi Sarah, I hope you will get a notification for my reply. Following the link does not take me to the vaccine support group. We are just starting into our childcare with selective vaccines journey, and I would love to be armed with as much valid, legal, supportive info to back my reasoning. If there is a way you or someone in the group could add me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

      1. Most anti-vaccination groups on Facebook are set to Secret. This means you have to be a friend with someone in the group. It keeps out the bad elements. :-/

    3. I would love to be added to your facebook group if possible. We have an unvaxed five year old and are just starting our journey into DoD schools as we’ve lived off post until now. I’d love to follow the experiences of others and provide support through sharing our experiences too. Many thanks.

  2. Im so sad! Heart broken! My 3 year old boy just got declined to enter the CDC beacuse of him not havinvg Vaccines. 😦

    1. But that’s kind of the whole point of this. They may try to deny, but the regulation says that you can file a religious exemption. It’s like the whole “No Shots, No School” which isn’t true :-/

  3. Thank you soooooo much for sharing this. I’d like to share my recent experience at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. My spirit has been crushed. I was told 4 separate times by 4 separate people at the Parent Central Services at Schofield that Kai was allowed to register for child care services as long as I wrote a memo for a vaccination exemption using either personal, medical or religious reasons. They told me that I did not require a letter from clergy or medical professional to request this exemption. I went through the WHOLE process of registering on online, in person and went to my pediatrician to fill out all the forms they required. After all that, I got a phone call informing me that Kai is actually not allowed to go to hourly care or preschool (he’s 2). They will however allow him to join the other programs (music, sports etc.). I was told that the program director is calling the shots (no pun intended) on what programs she deems acceptable for non vaxed children. HELP!!! Do I still have a case or am I SOL? Thank you again for your support:)!! Grace Dela Cruz Kitchens

  4. Thank you so much for writing this! My husband wants to go to Scholfield Barracks and I am terrified of getting there and them not allowing my children into school (3rd and kindergarten and prek)! Have you any experience with the schooling system there? I’m not sure how it works, on post or off? Thank you!

    1. I don’t have any experience with that post, or with the Army really as we’re Air Force. I will say that in my experience, registering my kids at school on base/post (they’re 6 and 7 now) has been a piece of cake. Just the DoDEA form with a simple “We do not vaccinate for religious reasons” and that was it. The cited regulation applies to DoDEA schools as well as daycare centers.

      For off post in Hawaii, it looks like they accept Medical and Religious, no Personal Belief exemptions: http://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements/hawaii.aspx

  5. Thank you so much for this article. We are currently working on the command sponsorship in order for us to go to S. Korea with my husband and I was worried I’d encounter some trouble. We did have trouble in Ft. Bliss to get the kids on the CDC but my daughter went to school on post without a hassle when I showed her exemption. Now in Korea both my kids will attend school and we will be TTC there, so I keep getting as much info as I can. Thanks again!!

    PS. If you have any info on this issue in Korea, please let me know.

    1. Sorry, I don’t have any Korea-specific information. All I can say is that there are no entry vaccinations required for S. Korea (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/clinician/children.extended_student/south-korea note that all say RECOMMENDED not REQUIRED) so according to the regulations, there shouldn’t be an issue, just as there wasn’t for us to come to Japan. That being said… lol.

      Basically, if they follow the regulations, any place a family can be command sponsored, there shouldn’t be an issue as the regulations state that family members have to have REQUIRED (*not* recommended) vaccines to go. No country that families go to have required vaccines for entry. But we all know they try to not follow the regulations some times :-/

  6. We just received orders to Japan and I am really worried about getting medical clearance with my non vaxxed 2yo. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience. Thank you.

    1. We PCSd to Misawa 2 1/2 years ago with no problems. The only time vaccines even came up for us was during the physical, and when I told the kids’ pediatrician that we don’t vaccinate for religious reasons, he just said “okay”. The reaction IN Misawa from doctors has been pretty much the same – both at the peditrician’s office for sports physicals, and even at the UCC.

      I have heard some people have had issues with PCSing to Okinawa though.

  7. Thank you for sharing this information! We are in VA, and The CDC took several weeks to review and approve what they said was a first time request to allow a child not fully vaccinated (I do not vaccinate my children for varicella or Hep B). They only allowed my children to attend if they were not in the same room with other children who have not had a varicella shot. The reasoning was that my unvaccinated children could spread varicella to the infant groups they share a room with (Hourly care is a combined group of 6 weeks to 5 years old). They did make accomodations for me by allowing me to have hourly care in a normally full time toddler room because it turned out that there is never a day an infant isn’t in the combined hourly care room. It’s been a huge headache, but where we live I have no other options but the CDC for my two year old. I am glad they did accommodate me, but it wasn’t an easy or short process, by any means. It took several weeks to process my form and arrange all of this.

  8. Hi, I’m curious about the location of the following statement; (b) Children attending DOD and USCG-sponsored primary and secondary schools, childcare centers, or similar facilities are required to be up to date on all age appropriate ACIP-recommended vaccines for children unless there is a documentation of previous immunization, religious exemption, or medical contraindication. For foreign-national children outside of the United States, observe host country recommendations or requirements.

    I didn’t see it in the Regulation; I only saw information about the SERVICEMEMBER listed under Religious Exemptions. I would like to make sure that when I submit my paperwork that I also have the correct Reg information to attach to it as well. Please advise. Thank you for this information!

  9. Oh thank you sooo much for this information!!! We are currently in Okinawa… had an awful time getting here with medical and our daughter not being vaccinated. They finally said my husband had to come with or without us for a two year tour. After tears and prayer we did the MINIMAL first round of immunizations to keep our family together. Now I have recieved a letter from her DoD school saying she will not be able to attend school without her vaccinations being up to date. We have kept our ground and beliefs intact through almost 25 years of public and private school. We even had to hire an attorney when we lived in New York when there were “suspected” cases of whooping cough and our unvaccinated son was sent home from school. This information is a true answer to prayer! Thank you again!

    1. Hi we are supposed to be deploying to Okinawa in August. Just wondering if u were forced to vaccinate fully or were u able to continue schooling ur kids without their full vaccines? Both of my daughters are unvaccinated

      1. We went to Misawa and had no problems. Another acquaintance also just PCSd to Misawa, but she homeschools.

        It was really simple for me. I just filled out the form (http://www.dodea.edu/StudentServices/upload/2011_2942_0_M_F4.pdf) and wrote on it, word for word, “We do not vaccinate for religious reasons.” That’s all there was to it. Nurse just said “thank you” and that was it!

        I have heard of people having more issues with getting to Okinawa, but, really, it should be the same across the board, so I’m not sure why.

  10. In the process of PCSING to Rota, I’m so frustrated they are giving me a hard time and actually denied our first screening package because my little guy is behind (I didn’t want to vax at all but my husband forced my hand with these orders, so even after vax in our 2yo and getting our infant his first round we were denied because my 7mo hasn’t had all his shots for his age, even though we have to wait 6 weeks after the first round to go. I wish I had of found this sooner.hoping I can avoid any further vaxs

  11. Please help! This blog has given me some hope! We are in the process of preparing for our PCS to Okinawa and we have also been told that both children need to be up to date on vaccines or my husband will have to go alone for 2 years (or be discharged). My 3yo is partially vaccinated, but my 18mo is a home birth baby and hasn’t had a single one. I’m in tears thinking of vaccinating him with everything he “needs” in the short amount of time we have (PCS date is early August 2016). If anyone has any advice or help, please let me know! I’m so worried and praying hard. Splitting up our family is not an option but I’m not sure what to do!

    1. Sorry, Kelli, I’m just now seeing this. I have heard of people having more issues with Okinawa. All I can tell you is that PCSing to mainland Japan is still easy :-/

  12. Would the DoDEA form listed work for delayed or selective vaccinations? Thank you for this info!!

    Are you still in Misawa? We arrived here 9 months ago 🙂

    1. I’m not sure on that. You could either try or submit it as if you don’t vaccinate at all. For instance, my kids are partially vaccinated as we vaccinated then learned more and stopped. I submitted it as stated, that we don’t vaccinate for religious reasons, since that is now true.

      We are no longer in Misawa. We just PCSd back stateside!

  13. THANK YOU for this resource. My DH and I don’t fully agree on this topic so it’s wonderful to have someone on the same team to pass information to him from. ❤

  14. Thank you so much for this!..I can’t tell you how much this means to me to find this information. My husband is in the Air Force and the CDC is basically forcing me to give my child the flu vaccine. They tell me there are no other exemptions. I feel backed into a corner, but I knew that there must be something that I can do. My children didn’t sign up to be in the military, so why should they be forced to be given something that they don’t need. Please if you have any updates, share. Thank you!

  15. Not sure if you’re still active on this, but I have a few questions. My husband recently passed away, he was active duty, USMC. My son has only had one set of shots when he was like 3 or 4 months and I have been really against them. I had a few questions since you went through it, that I would be greatly appreciative you could help me with!

      1. So my husband passed away in February. And I have to go back to work. I don’t agree with vaccinating our son and can still utilize base. Is there anything I need to look for? I’m located in Jacksonville FL.

        Do I have to have a letter? I just don’t know how it all works!

      2. Other than what I wrote about my experience with the CDC on base, I don’t really have anything else to tell you. My number one suggestion is to go in thinking it won’t be an issue. Just go in with the form. If they question it, have the regulation on hand. If they still question it, ask them to show you their regulation stating that they don’t accept waivers.

        Good luck!

      3. Actually Stacy I was supposed to go to Jacksonville.. It is pretty easy there. U have to go to the county health center and ask the nurse for the exemption. They may tell u a few “facts” on vaccines but will hand u a religious exemption slip u sign.. That’s it. Do u know where u will be living in Jacksonville?

  16. Thank you for this great information. I saw a link to a Facebook page in a previous comment, but nothing comes up when I click it. Does anyone know of any other similar facebook support pages?

    1. The group is still there, it’s just set to secret. Most are jut due to the chance of getting the wrong type of people in there. Unfortunately I don’t currently know of any that aren’t set to secret, but I’ll keep looking!

      1. Is there any way to be added to the groups? We may be moving to Japan next summer (Iwakuni) and I’d like to have as much information as possible before we put in our choices (CA being the other one 😕)

  17. Hi thank you for your blog.. Both of my kids are unvaccinated and we will be deploying to Okinawa soon.

  18. Does anyone have any experience with the on base elementary school as far was their curriculum? Are the international schools better? What is the vaccine exemption procedure for the international schools? We will be in Okinawa starting September. Thank u in advance

  19. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! I went against my own feelings and beliefs and less than a week ago started my youngest with her first vaccination, as I was told there was no way that CYSS (Army) would allow my children to attend without up to date shots. With my husband being deployed and family far away, I really need the hourly care to be able to keep my sanity. Someone on a local page shared your blog (this post, specifically) with me and all I can say is thank you and I wish I had found this a week earlier.

  20. what a great resource!!! currently stationed in Okinawa and we were told there were NO exemptions for here… hubby would have to be here for two years without us… we felt like we were forced into deciding between the lesser of two evils… the process to be able to move overseas is so overwhelming! the physical and emotional stress was more than we were able to juggle…so we did the first round of shots for our 6 year old… havent completed them and do not intend to. just got an update from the school about their vax requirements and flu shot schedule… this is such a sad and sore subject for us… our son is 25 and we did not vaccinate him… we are committed to this decision to the point of hiring an attorney on one occassion when he was in grade school… i guess my point is its ok to feel overwhelmed… the military can make you feel powerless as a parent… and if you decide you have to vax you are not a bad parent because of it! the stress this puts on a family is just so wrong!
    this is really important information for military families! keep up the good work of getingt the info out there for everyone to find!

  21. Hi! So glad I found this! Both my girls have been vaccinated up until recently. I have MTHFR genetic mutations, my oldest does as well, and my youngest has yet to be tested. Unfortunately MTHFR is still not completely understood or accepted and I’m very doubtful I’ll be able to use the medical side of the exemption.

    I called the CDC where my youngest is enrolled and was told by the person who answered that they had not seen an exemption approved in the 20 years they have worked there. Furthermore, I was told the only time they had seen a response to the waiver was one and a half years after it was submitted and that response was a denial.

    The state I reside in made the exemption very painless for my oldest based on personal reasons, but now I am faced with the process of getting a waiver for my youngest.

    My question is, did you simply submit to the CDC your DoDEA FORM 2942 along with the immunization records for what your child(ren) had already received? Was it given directly to the CDC or did you submit it to the Immunizations office in the clinic?

    My biggest fear is that we will be challenged on this since we have vaccinated up until now. I do not attend church, but I do believe in God and I do believe as parents we do and want the best for our children. We make decisions in their best interests based upon the information we have at the time. I don’t suppose there is a clear question there, I suppose I’m looking for words of encouragement. I’m very nervous about this.

    Unfortunately my husband and I have fears set on opposite sides. He fears our children becoming ill from not being vaccinated and I fear them becoming ill by being further vaccinated. Our oldest has a number of health issues (autism, asthma, add, and allergies) and our youngest has a speech delay (apraxia of speech it appears, although we are pending official input). I saw our youngest regress with her speech and the trouble she has now. I feel like all the challenges so far have been red flags and to me it is the universe saying “no more, stop before it’s too late.” It’s difficult because we both want what’s best for our kids, we just have different perspectives on what that looks like.

    If you got to the end, thanks for listening. Moms worry more than they should and I am just being a Mom right now. Again, thanks for making this post. Oh and I had a difficult time with one link, looks like something has changed and made it inaccessible. Here is what I found to work: https://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/6000-6999/CIM_6230_4G.pdf the pertinent information is on page 13.

    1. Thank you for letting me know about the broken link. The whole site moved as of the first of October and I have updated the link!

      As for the submission process, I submitted it to the FCC (Family Child Care) office as I had had better luck dealing with them. I am not sure what process it went through from there as I was not involved or informed of that. I also don’t remember exactly how long it took, but it wasn’t more than a few months maximum. They simply called me when the approval came it from the Pentagon. I then took a copy of the approval letter to the CDC and gave it to them. I believe I may have called them once or twice wanting to know where in the process it was and they nicely let me know (i.e., that it was at the base medical commander’s office, that it had left that office, etc.).

      In the process I DID NOT give them anything with the children’s previous vaccines (DS had been vaccinated through his 15 month vaccinations, DD had been through her 3 month (I guess they’re the 2 month set now?)). IMO, it didn’t matter that they had been given vaccines at one point, my knowledge about vaccines had changed and therefor, backed by my religious convictions, my stance had changed. To me it is no different than giving a child Amoxicillin and later discovering that they are allergic. Yes, they were given it at one point, now they no longer are.

      As for them not seeing an exemption approved in their 20 years, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I’m guessing they also haven’t seen that many exemption requests. For example, I think that at the school the kids are at now they are 2 of only maybe half a dozen kids in the whole school that have exemptions. At school registration when I told the nurse that they had exemptions she pulled up the folder, exemptions are in the front pocket, and I only saw a few other forms in that pocket (no, I didn’t see any names, so no HIPPA violation there).

      Good luck!

    2. People are only scared of the illnesses because of what we are told about them. “Dissolving Illusions” is a great book that breaks down each of the illnesses that are vaccinated for. Once you know the history, exactly how they work, and the modern methods of nutrition and sanitation that have largely been responsible for much of the fear of such sickness, than you won’t be afraid anymore❤️

  22. Hi! We are Air Force and I’m wondering if you’ve ever found a way for the Active Duty member to be exempt from their vaccines? My husband’s tried every year to avoid them and then he nearly gets in trouble and has to go in. There has to be a way for him not to?

    Thanks❤️

    1. The regulations state that medical and religious exemptions ARE allowed, but it does seem to be much harder to get them. It can also render the AD member undeployable and not eligible for reenlistment.

  23. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned on your journey. I used the forms and references today and was looked at like I was crazy by a woman who has been working in the CDC for 26 yrs. She’d never experienced “this”. There are some additional local requirements in order to have my children attend the CDC but I’m ok with that. At the very least I hope this woman is curious enough to do her own research and get educated on the topic. Even if she doesn’t agree. Thanks again!

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Much appreciated. We’re about to apply for an exemption to a DoD school for the first time as we’ve lived off post until now. I’ll be drawing on your wisdom to help us through this process.

  25. As of 3/18/17, none of the links work any longer. For the http://www.vaccines.mil/documents/1682_Joint_Instruction_Immunization_2013.pdf (“Immunizations and Chemoprophylaxis for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases 2013”) go to this PDF archive site to download it: https://document.li/x5oC

    From now on, I recommend using these PDF archive sites to upload any PDF files, and make multiple uploads. Check frequently to be sure they are still there. For information in website pages, save multiple copies to Archive.is, or something similar. They don’t want people having this information, even if it’s within their rights to claim a religious exemption to vaccines. If vaccines are so wonderful, why do they make finding exemption information so difficult? *rolls eyes*

    1. While I agree that it would be easier to keep them archived, in my opinion it leaves too much of an opening for nay-sayers to say “that’s not valid as it’s someone’s saved copy and not an official copy”, know what I mean? But thank you!

      Although it’s frustrating, I rely on people like you to let me know when things have moved so I can go find them and re-link them 😉

      1. Sorry, I should’ve clarified and said that WE as a community of vaccine choice activists need to keep copies and archives of this information so we can help each other when these military/government sites change the link URLs or eliminate them. 🙂 Thanks for the quick response!

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