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Exemptions from School Vaccine Requirements

Question: What type of immunization exemptions are available in South Carolina?

  • Answer: Medical and religious exemptions are the only available immunization exemptions in South Carolina.

Question: How can I obtain a South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption?

  • Answer: A religious exemption may be granted to any student whose parents, parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis signs and has notarized the appropriate section (Statement of Religious Objection) of the South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption. The South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption may only be obtained at a county public health department. Forms cannot be e-mailed or mailed.

Question: Is there a personal exemption clause?

  • Answer: No. Medical and religious exemptions are the only available immunization exemptions in South Carolina.

Question: Does the South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption form extend to college age students?

  • Answer: No. State immunization regulation on immunization exemptions extends from day care through 12th grade. Each college and university sets their own policy for immunization requirements.

Question: What is a medical exemption?

  • Answer: South Carolina state law recognizes exemptions to immunization for medical contraindications as determined by a licensed health care provider. Only an individual licensed to practice medicine, surgery, or osteopathy or his/her representative may issue a certificate of medical exemption to immunization. There is one DHEC form, The South Carolina Certificate of Immunization, that meets both the certification and the medical exemption regulations (SC Regulation 61-8).

Question: What is a special exemption?

  • Answer: A special exemption, signed by the school principal or his/her authorized representative, may be issued to transfer students while awaiting arrival of medical records from their former area of residence or to other students who have been unable to secure immunizations or documentation of immunizations already received. A South Carolina Certificate of Special Exemption may be issued only once and is valid for only thirty (30) days. At the expiration of this special exemption, the student must present a valid South Carolina Certificate of Immunization or a valid South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption.

For more information, contact us at (803) 898-0460, toll-free at (800) 277-4687, or at immunize@dhec.sc.gov.