For the health of all Scouters and Scouts, the Boy Scouts of America follows the recommendations of leading health and pediatric associations in recommending age-appropriate immunizations for members.
Specifically, the BSA requires tetanus shots for anyone attending BSA programs or activities where an annual health and medical record is required. Other age-appropriate immunizations, including those that protect against measles, meningococcal disease, influenza and other maladies are “strongly recommended” by the BSA.
It’s all outlined in this “Report of the Immunization Task Force” issued by the BSA’s National Health and Safety Support Subcommittee. The report is from 2008, but it still stands as gospel today.
BSA immunizations were recently on the mind of Toni, wife of a Scoutmaster and mom of an Eagle Scout, who writes:
Please address the immunization topic and how it pertains to Scouts. While parents certainly have the right to choose medical care for their children, what happens if that affects the health of other members of a troop? Does BSA have an official position when it comes to Scouts and their immunizations for summer camps, high adventure bases, or jamborees?
Toni from Ohio
Wife of Scoutmaster and mom of Eagle Scout
What the BSA says
This is straight from the report I linked to above:
ARTICLE ONE: For the benefit of individual health as well as that of the community in general, it is the Boy Scouts of America national policy that members of the organization adhere to the joint recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices , the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians with regard to obtaining age-appropriate immunizations.
ARTICLE TWO: When attending Boy Scouts of America programs or activities that require an annual health and medical record or specialty physical exam to be completed, it is required to have current tetanus immunization. The following immunizations are strongly recommended.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, pertussis
- Measles, mumps, rubella
ARTICLE THREE: Persons attending national Scouting events or council and district events requiring an annual health and medical record or specialty physical exam be completed will be allowed to attend if they have not received the above immunizations, but a medical alert must be noted on the individual’s physical form. Event sponsors, such as a jamboree or camping program headquarters, must maintain the ability to identify inadequately immunized participants and locate them in case of a necessity for isolation or quarantine as per local public health official directives. Exceptions to tetanus immunization will be accepted for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons.
The BSA does allow Scouts and Scouters to participate in BSA activities without the required and recommended immunizations, but a medical alert will be marked on their medical forms. That’s so health officials can quickly quarantine or isolate them in the event of an emergency.
Those who chose not to receive the tetanus immunization are required to fill out a form releasing the BSA from liability.
Why is a tetanus shot required?
Because our participants are in the outdoors and will get minor cuts and scrapes — in other words, occasions when tetanus might show up. Tetanus, also called “lockjaw,” is usually fatal, and tetanus spores are potentially located everywhere.