NVIC Vaccine News

Texas Parents: Know Your Vaccine Choice Rights During Hurricane Harvey Flood Emergency

By Dawn Richardson and Rebecca Rex
Published September 04, 2017 in Government


Flood Victims

Many parts of Texas have suffered severe flooding and damage where families within our community have had their lives drastically affected. This is just the start of a challenging journey ahead recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

If your family has been displaced and/or your property damaged and need to find new health care practitioners that will take care of your family and respect your vaccine refusal or delay decisions, we can check in with our community to find you the referrals you need where you need them. If you are reading this and have a great referral for a health care provider that is supportive of your rights to decline or delay vaccines, please let us know their names, contact information, and location so we can pass that information on to families in need.

You can reach Dawn Richardson in Austin and Rebecca Rex in Houston by emailing [email protected]

Rights of Homeless Students

If you have become temporarily homeless or your school has become damaged and your child needs to re-enroll somewhere else, please know you have rights

“Students who are experiencing homelessness are to be enrolled immediately. Districts cannot require students experiencing homelessness to provide proof of residency, immunizations, birth certificates guardianship documents, or any other sort of required paperwork before enrolling. Requiring missing paperwork or any other delay to enrollment is a violation of the McKinney-Vento Act.” 

The Texas Department of State Health Services issued a letter on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 regarding immunization records and enrollment of students displaced by Hurricane Harvey. As a reminder, students displaced by the hurricane are considered homeless and receive immediate enrollment even without the normally required paperwork (including immunizations). The text of the letter is as follows:

“The purpose of this letter is to remind school districts of the current immunization rules that affect students displaced by Hurricane Harvey and to provide information on how schools can obtain immunization histories for transfer students.”

Disaster shelter

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) rules relating to immunization requirements for school entry allow a student transferring from one Texas school to another to be provisionally enrolled without proof of required immunizations for up to 30 days. (Texas Administrative Code, Title 25, Part I, Chapter 97, Subchapter B, Section 97.69.) As the 30-day period draws closer to an end, if there appears to be a significant number of displaced students who are still having trouble obtaining their immunization records, DSHS will consider whether a short additional provisional enrollment period is possible. The 30-day time period begins the day the student begins attending classes at the new school.

Additionally, students displaced by Hurricane Harvey and who are considered homeless under the federal McKinney-Vento Act may be admitted to attend school without documentation of required immunizations for up to 30 days. For more information regarding specific guidelines for homeless students, contact the Texas Homeless Education Office at 1-800-446-3142 or visit their website.

Resources for Families of Texas Students

disaster recovery

The Texas Homeless Education Office has put together a list of local, state, and federal resources to assist in dealing with hurricane Harvey.

If your school was damaged and can’t transfer records and you need to request a new conscientious/religious vaccine exemption form that will need to be submitted to the school prior to the end of the 30 day grace period (provisional enrollment period), there are several ways to obtain an affidavit.

Obtaining a School Vaccine Exemption in Texas during Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

The information below was compiled from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

A person claiming an exclusion (exemption) for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief, from a required immunization may only obtain the affidavit form by submitting a request (via online form, mail, fax or hand-delivery) to the department. The request must include following information:

  • Full name of child or student
  • Child's or student's date of birth (month/day/year)
  • Complete mailing address (use an address that is not compromised by flooding)
  • Number of requested affidavit forms (not to exceed 5).

Affidavit form requests will be processed and mailed within one week from the receipt of the request. If additional information is needed in order to process the affidavit, you will be notified.

Email or telephone requests cannot be processed. Requests for affidavit forms must be submitted to the department through one of the following methods:

school children
Online: School vaccine exemption affidavits may be requested online via the Texas Department of State Health Services Immunization Unit Affidavit Request website.


A written request for an affidavit may be sent through the United States Postal Service (or other commercial carrier) to:

Texas Department of State Health Services
Immunization Branch, Mail Code 1946
P.O. Box 149347
Austin, Texas 78714-9347

FAX: Fax written requests for affidavits to: (512) 776-7544.

In Person: Requests for an affidavit may be made in-person at:

Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756 

NOTE: No requests will be filled at the time of hand-delivery. All affidavit forms will be mailed to you via U.S. Postal Service so use an address that is able to receive mail.

Texas Strong

Help Texas Families by Sharing Student Enrollment Information

Please share this information with families you know who may need it and are not able to access the internet right now. This information is also published in the announcement section of the Texas state page on the NVIC's Advocacy Portal.

God Bless Texas!

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