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Student Immunization Records and Health Data Privacy Laws

posted on Thu, May 18 2017 1:28 pm by The Network

A healthcare administrator recently contacted the Network asking for resources on the applicability and requirements of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in relation to the sharing of students’ immunization information.

FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. HIPAA is a Federal law that sets out protections for health insurance coverage and provides standards for privacy for electronic and other health records. Information about a student’s immunization status can be important to public health (particularly during disease outbreaks), but privacy requirements must be observed.

The Network provided the requestor with several resources, including:

  • The section of HIPAA that allows covered entities to provide immunization information to schools – however, it is important to note there is a requirement to obtain oral or written agreement of a parent or individual (adult or emancipated minor).
  • A PowerPoint presentation by the Mid-States Region Director of the Network, Denise Chrysler -  FERPA: Its Impact on Data Sharing by Schools. Of particular note is slide 7, regarding FERPA’s inapplicability to health information collected and maintained by non-school entities that are providing health care services on school premises, but are not acting as an agent of the school.
  • A publication of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education – Joint Guidance on the Application of FERPA and HIPAA to Student Health Records
  • An example of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for data sharing amongst government agencies.


Network attorneys are available to answer questions on this and other public health topics at no cost to you, and can assist you in using law to advance your public health initiatives. Contact a Network Attorney in your area for more information.

The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.