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What is a Vaccine Consent Form?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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A vaccine consent form is a document a party signs to indicate that he consents to receiving a particular type of vaccine. For example, a person may be required to sign a vaccine consent form before he receives a flu vaccine. Signing one of these forms typically means a person not only consents to receiving the vaccination, but also understands why he is receiving it and its potential side effects. In most cases, a person has to be an adult to sign a consent form, as a minor's signature on such a form isn't usually legal.

A vaccine consent form may be used for just one type of vaccine or for an entire series of vaccines. For example, a person may sign such a form to receive just a measles vaccine, or he may sign one form to receive both a flu and pneumonia vaccine. If the form is used for more than one vaccine, it will usually include information about both vaccines’ risks. In lieu of that, however, it may include a statement that indicates the signer has received information about the risks and benefits of the vaccine. Sometimes these forms also include a consent for the release of related patient information to regional health departments and insurance companies responsible for paying for the vaccines.

In addition to legal language about consent and the risks of having a particular vaccine, a vaccine consent form often includes a section a person must fill out to indicate his current health status. For example, he may be asked whether he is sick on the day of the vaccine and whether he is allergic to any of the vaccine’s ingredients. He may also be asked whether he’s ever had an adverse reaction to a vaccine and whether he has a serious health condition. Often, a vaccine consent form will also ask the signer whether he has an immune system disorder or lives with someone who has a compromised immune system. Additionally, this type of form may contain questions about any treatments a person is undergoing and medications he may be using.

In most places, minors are not allowed to sign vaccine consent forms on their own behalf. Typically, a parent is presented with a vaccine consent form to sign for his child. This is typically done because a form signed by a minor usually isn’t legal and won’t stand up in a court of law.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Nov 15, 2011

I'm going to get a tetanus vaccine next month because I had gotten one five years ago and apparently, it has to be renewed every 4-5 years. I needed my parent's consent at that time but now that I'm 18 years old, can I sign the consent form myself?

I think for most forms, my signature is enough after I turn 18. But I need to make sure so that I can send the form to my parents beforehand if I need their signature.

Does anyone know about this?

By burcidi — On Nov 14, 2011

@surfNturf-- I agree with you.

I actually have several friends who have refused to consent for their children getting vaccinated. They feel that vaccination is not natural and puts the life of the child in danger by injecting viruses and synthetic substances into them. I respect their point of view and it's their right to refuse this for their children if they want to.

I think vaccination is a sensitive and important issue and we need to compare the risks versus the benefits when deciding about it. Yes, there are some risks associated with it, such as an allergic reaction or a vaccine gone bad that could potentially put someone's life in danger.

But the chances of this happening in the American health care system is very low in my view. The benefits far outweigh the risks and I'm very happy to have gotten all of my kids vaccinated.

By ddljohn — On Nov 14, 2011

@ElizaBennett-- When it comes to vaccine consent, I don't think it's an issue if you're getting the vaccination willingly even though you don't have to. No one has to get a flu vaccine, but many of us do every year because we want to get it and of course, we fill out the flu vaccine consent form.

But sometimes, people who are serving or traveling to other countries are required to receive vaccination and they automatically consent to it without knowing much about it. I completely agree with you that consent forms really don't include as much information about that vaccine as they should.

For example, a friend of mine went to India as part of a school program and was required to receive a series of vaccinations for malaria. After she consented and received the vaccinations, she found out through her own research that malaria vaccines can damage the liver and could even cause serious complications in the future.

This information should have been included on the vaccine consent form.

By surfNturf — On Nov 13, 2011

@Kat919 - While I understand that there are some reactions to different vaccines the majority of children benefit from vaccines. As a matter of fact the outbreaks that we have seen in recent years are due to the fact that some kids are not vaccinated so they become infected with a disease that we thought was already eradicated.

One of the most important vaccines is the meningococcal vaccine which protects children against bacterial meningitis. I remember years ago a lady that I worked with lost her son to this disease because he was not vaccinated and just picked up the disease.

I make sure that my children are vaccinated against everything possible. They have even taken the hepatitis vaccine, which I have never had because when I was a kid it was not available. I think that we have to take advantage of these advances in medical science.

By Kat919 — On Nov 13, 2011

@ElizaBennett - I second the recommendation of The Vaccine Book. I know a lot of people who chose not to vaccinate at all, but I personally think it's important for kids to be fully vaccinated. But the standard schedule tends to rush things a little. The thing is that doctors want to get as many shots in as possible while you're there! They don't want to risk that you won't bring your child back to finish them.

So if you *do* chose to space out your child's vaccines, as I did, it's super-important to be diligent and really keep track. I mostly followed the alternate schedule in Dr. Sears' book. For instance, instead of having two shots at the two-month checkup, I just had one and then came back a month later for the other. I'm holding off on polio until my kids start school because they're just not going to get polio - but if we don't keep vaccinating against it, it could come back!

And my child did have a minor reaction to the dTap vaccine, and I was glad to know exactly which vaccine had caused it.

By ElizaBennett — On Nov 13, 2011

Don't assume that the vaccination consent form will tell you everything you ned to know! In most cases, by the time a consent form is in front of you, you'll just sign it (probably without reading it) to get on with your life, so do your research ahead of time. (It is also not uncommon for various consent forms to be misleadingly worried. You should have seen the one for my VBAC - but I digress.)

For parents, a good resource is The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears. (Not Williams Sears, actually, but one of his sons - Robert, maybe?) It is neither anti- nor pro-vaccine and it explains what each vaccine does, what it is made out of and how it is made, why some people might object to it, etc. (For the record, he does *not* by into the discredited research that vaccines cause autism, but there are other concerns.)

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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