All states require that children be immunized for certain diseases before
entering school. Since school attendance is mandatory, the law makes
immunization mandatory. Philosophically, it is absurd to speak of informed
consent to a mandatory treatment. Nonetheless, physicians are expected to
obtain informed consent for these immunizations. There is only one acceptable
way to obtain this consent: using the federally promulgated vaccine
information pamphlets. [Goldsmith MF. Vaccine information pamphlets here
but some physicians react strongly. JAMA. 1992;267:2005– 2007.] These are
often referred to as the Important Information Forms because of their
introductory header. They are available from the vaccine distributors, state
health departments, and the CDC. The forms have a section to document the
consent, including the manufacturer and lot number for the biological, and the
date of the immunization. Although not part of the mandatory information, it is
also useful to record the name of the person administering the immunization.
It is imperative that every patient or person authorizing the immunization
(parent or guardian) be given the information in the federal form and a copy to
keep. The consent can be further documented in a more conventional
immunization record such as those provided by the World Health Organization.
These formal immunization records are useful to show that the child’s
immunization status is current.