Dear Parents/Guardians,

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education revised the Maine School Immunization Requirements. The changes further align Maine's immunization rules with current national recommendations to better protect the health of all Maine people. The following two changes were made:

  1. Effective immediately, the exclusion period for varicella disease (chicken pox) has increased from 16 days to 21 days. This means that any child who has not provided proof of immunization or history of disease will be unable to attend school or any school related activity for 21 days. This time period will be extended if any further chicken pox cases occur after the first. The law requires a 21 day exclusion period after the LAST case.
  2. Effective for the 2017-2018 school year, all students entering, advancing, or transferring into seventh (7th) grade will need to receive one dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine before attendance is allowed: This requirement is for 7th grade students only; grades 8-12 are not included in this rule change.

You can find a link to the rule (Chapter 126 / 261) here: http://www.maine.gov/doe/rule/changes/index.html

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a very contagious respiratory disease that can be severe and last for months. The immunity received from either early childhood immunization or pertussis disease wears off over time, leaving older students and adults susceptible to pertussis. Immunization with Tdap can protect students, schools and communities against whooping cough.

We are providing you with this information now so that you have ample time to schedule an appointment prior to the first day of the 2017-2018 school year. Attached please find the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on this new school immunization requirement.

If you believe your child has already received a dose of Tdap, please send an updated immunization record to the health office.

If you have any questions, please contact, Carol M. Wendel, School Nurse.

For further questions, please contact the Maine Immunization Program at (207) 287-3746 or (800) 867-4775 or by email at ImmunizeME.DHHSComaine.gov.

Thank you,
Carol M. Wendel, BSN, RN, NCSN

Department of Health and Human Services
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
286 Water Street
11 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0011
Tel.: (207) 287-8016; Fax: (207) 287-9058
TTY Users: Dial 711. (Maine Relay)


Maine Immunization Program Tel. (207) 287-3746 Fax (207) 287-8127

FAQ: Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) School Immunization Requirement

n  What is the new Tdap requirement?

All students entering, advancing, or transferring into seventh (7th) grade will need proof of the Tdap booster immunization before entry into school starting this coming August, the 2017-18 school year. This requirement applies to 7th grade students ONLY; grades 8-12 are NOT included in this rule change.

  • Why was the Tdap requirement added?

The new immunization requirement is intended to reduce the spread of pertussis in Maine. In recent years Maine has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases of pertussis, also know as whooping cough, throughout the state.

Prior to entering kindergarten, most children are fully protected against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis after receiving the DTaP vaccine in early childhood. However, immunity to these diseases wears off, leaving adolescents vulnerable once again. A booster dose of Tdap during adolescence helps to protect students and their close contacts, including young infants for whom pertussis is most severe.

  • Who is affected by the Tdap requirement? All public and private schools with enrolled 7th grade students are affected by the law.

n  What exemptions are available under Maine law?

Maine law describes three exemptions for student immunization requirements. Schools should maintain an up-to-date list of students with exemptions so those students can be excluded quickly if an outbreak occurs.

q  Medical exemptions: Physicians may grant in writing an exemption for students for whom immunizations are not medically indicated.

q  Religious: You may request an exemption for children from immunization requirements if the immunization is contrary to your religious beliefs. The parent or guardian requesting an exemption needs to provide the school with a signed note stating the objection. Religious exemptions must be renewed annually.

  • Philosophical exemptions: You may request an exemption for children from immunization requirements if the immunization is contrary to your personal beliefs. The parent or guardian requesting an exemption needs to provide the school with a signed note stating the objection. Philosophical exemptions must be renewed annually.
  • When should children get vaccinated with Tdap?

Now. Avoid the rush and make sure your children can start school on time. Parents are encouraged to make an appointment for their incoming 7th grader to get a Tdap booster shot now. Children as young as 10 years old are recommended to get vaccinated with Tdap. This will protect them against the ongoing threat of pertussis and will meet the Tdap school requirement for when they are in 7th grade. Keep documentation of the child's Tdap booster shot. Children will need proof of immunization in order to start school.