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What are the immunization rules?


DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

Under temporary pandemic rules, you can meet the immunization rules by telling DTA your children have been immunized. DTA Online Guide (Temporary COVID-19 Verification Procedures).

When pandemic rules are not in place, you must show proof of immunization (shots) or an appointment for immunization for every pre-school child in your family who is on the TAFDC grant. Proof includes a note from the doctor (on letterhead), a copy of a bill for a well-child visit, or a DTA form signed by your doctor. You can also meet the immunization rules if DTA pays for licensed child care or you have a statement from a Head Start or licensed child care program that the child is enrolled. 106 C.M.R. § 703.160. See What happens if you are excluded from the assistance unit? on the consequences of sanctions for not meeting the immunization requirements.

You do not have to have your child immunized if it would violate your religious beliefs, if a doctor determines that your child should not be immunized for medical reasons, or if you decide after consulting with a doctor that you do not want your child immunized for health reasons. If you do not wish to immunize your child for these reasons, you will be asked to provide a written statement from you or your doctor. 106 C.M.R. § 703.160(B).

The state is supposed to make sure you can get your child’s shots. Be sure to tell your DTA worker if you are having trouble scheduling an appointment for shots or getting the doctor to verify that your child’s shots are up to date.

You do not have to provide proof of immunization for school-age children or for children or for children in licensed child care that DTA pays for. For children in licensed child care or Head Start that DTA does not pay for, you only have to provide verification of enrollment. 106 C.M.R. § 703.160.(D)

Advocacy Reminders

  • The immunization requirement does not apply to children who are not on the grant because they get SSI benefits or because of their immigrant status.
  • You have 60 days from when you are told about the immunization requirement to provide proof of immunization or the reason why your child should not be immunized. 106 C.M.R. § 703.160; DTA Operations Memo 2012-17 (Apr. 25, 2012).
  • As of December 2021, DTA has not expanded the immunization requirement to include immunization against COVID-19.

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