Does G.S. 130-90, after the amendment of G.S. 130-87 by Chapter 160, 1977 Session Laws, require all children presently attending any public, private or parochial school in North Carolina to be immunized against rubella as a requirement for continuance in school?
All children presently attending school in North Carolina are not required to be immunized against rubella as a requirement for continuance in school. All children enrolled in school for the first time in North Carolina after July 1, 1977, are required to be immunized against rubella as a requirement for continuance in school.
Chapter 160, 1977 Session Laws, amended the first sentence of G.S. 130-87 by adding rubella to the list of diseases against which every child residing in this State must be immunized. The statute provides that "the Commission for Health Services shall adopt rules and regulations setting forth the required immunizations, the child's age for administering each vaccine, and the adequately immunizing doses." The Commission amended 10 N.C.A.C. 7A .0401, effective July 1, 1977, to provide that every child shall receive one dose of rubella vaccine by age two years.
The intent of Article 9 of Chapter 130 [G.S. 130-87 et seq] is to establish a comprehensive statewide immunization program in order to immunize every child in this State at the earliest age possible. After administration of the required vaccines, a certificate of immunization is presented to the parent. The parent "who has a child admitted to" school presents the certificate to the school authorities. If a child has not received all the required immunizations upon admission, a 30 day grace period is provided from the first official day of school or the first day of admission if after the first official day.
The question presented is whether the work "admitted " as used in G.S. 130-19 applies to a child's enrollment for the first time in school or a child's attendance at school. It is the opinion of this Office that the former is the proper construction of the term. Black's Law Dictionary defines "admit" as "to allow, receive or take; to suffer to enter; to give possession; to license"; Webster's Third International Dictionary defines "admit" as "to allow entry (as to a place, membership or privilege)." The definitions suggest the concept of conferring a benefit or privilege upon a person who has met certain qualifications or criteria. It is in this context that the word "admission" is used in G.S. 115-176, to-wit: "Each county and city board of education is hereby authorized and directed to provide for the assignment to a public school of each child residing within the administrative unit who is qualified under the laws of this state for admission to a public school." (Emphasis added).
The Division of Health Services and the State Department of Public Instruction have consistently interpreted G.S. 130-90 to apply to a child's enrollment for the first time in school. G.S. 130-90 is viewed as a remedy to complement the State's emphasis on immunization of children at an early age. The 1977 amendment did not address the question discussed in this opinion. The undertaking of an immunization program undergirded by the possible suspension of all students through the twelveth grade for failure to have received a rubella vaccination should await a clear expression of intent by the General Assembly. For these reasons, it is our opinion that a child is admitted to school for purposes of G.S. 130-90 when a child enrolls for the first time either as a result of his attaining the age required by G.S. 115-162 or G.S. 115-205.12 or as the result of his parents or guardian becoming residents of this State.
Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General
Robert R. Reilly Assistant Attorney General