How Do I Know If Other Children in My Child's Class Have Been Immunized?

Paul A. Offit, MD, explains why some parents want to know about immunization rates in their children’s schools.


How do I know if other children in my child's class have been immunized?

Paul Offit, MD:  Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I’m talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In this country, there are a little more than 300 million people. Now, not all of those people can be vaccinated, about 500 thousands can’t be vaccinated. They can’t be vaccinated because their immune system is suppressed, either because they’re getting chemotherapy for their cancer, or they’re getting biological agents for their chronic or rheumatologic disease, or in some cases because they’re too young. They depend on those around them to be vaccinated. So, I think one question that parents ask, especially those who have children who are immune-compromised who can’t get vaccines, they ask this question, “How do I know whether or not other children in my child’s classroom have been vaccinated?” Well, the short answer to the question is generally they don’t know. Unless they’re willing to be asking each of those parents whether their child has been vaccinated, they’re not going to know, which really isn’t fair.

I think that what you’re starting to see in this country is you’re starting to see an interest, especially among those parents whose children can’t be vaccinated, in finding out exactly what is the immunization rate in that classroom. And you’re starting to see now state legislators getting interested in providing that information. In other words, if there’s a school where there are a certain percentage of children who aren’t vaccinated that that school then has to make public the percentage of children in that school who are not vaccinated. I think that’s fair. I think that’s fair both — one to the parents who have children who can’t be vaccinated who depend on those around them to protect them, and also fair I think to public health agencies who when there are outbreaks, they need to know what are the areas that are at greatest risk, because often these diseases are spread in the school setting.

So, it’s an important question I think that parents ask, and I think you’re starting to see in this society now an interest in trying to answer that question.

Thank you.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Jan 30, 2020