By Jedidiah McKeehan

There has been a great deal of controversy in the last few years about individuals, particularly celebrities, choosing to forego immunization for their children, claiming that they actually do a detriment to their children.  There are actually a few Tennessee laws that specifically discuss the immunization of children.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 37-10-401 states that, “It is the responsibility of each parent or legal guardian to ensure that such person’s child or children receive the vaccines as are recommended by guidelines of the Center for Disease Control or the American Academy of Pediatrics to be administered to a child.  The parent or legal guardian is encouraged to obtain the recommended immunizations within the first two years of the child’s life.”

The statute goes on to list some of the vaccines that should be administered and they include: diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis B.

Even though that statute requires that vaccines be administered, the very next statute, 37-10-402 states that, “in the absence of an epidemic or immediate threat thereof, no vaccines are required for any child whose parent or guardian files with proper authorities a signed, written statement that such immunization and other preventative measures conflict with the religious tenets and practices of the parent or guardian affirmed under penalties of perjury.”

Finally, if that is not enough, the legislators want to make abundantly clear that parents can essentially do what they want when it comes to vaccinations in the last statute on the subject of vaccines, 37-10-403, by stating, “no parent or legal guardian shall be criminally prosecuted nor civilly liable for failure to comply with the provision of this part.”

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.