Vaccinations are an important part of maintaining your health, both as a child and as an adult. Your vaccination record, also known as an immunization record, keeps track of all vaccinations you received as a child and an adult. The record should show the date the vaccination was received, what vaccination was administered, who administered the shot, where on the body it was administered, and what doctor’s office or health clinic administered the vaccine. You should keep a copy of your immunization record so that you can stay up to date on your vaccinations. Keep reading to find out how you can find your vaccine records!
Importance of Immunization Readiness
Vaccine records may be required for certain jobs, schools, travel, or other activities. For example, in many states, the meningococcal vaccine is required to live in college or university dormitories. Additionally, some vaccinations are required for traveling to certain countries. If you plan on traveling overseas, check with your doctor to see if there are any required or recommended vaccinations you should receive.
Vaccinations are recommended throughout your life, not just as a child, so keeping track of your vaccine records will allow you to stay up to date on your vaccinations. Many adults may think that the only vaccine they need to get is an annual influenza shot, but there are many vaccinations that are recommended for adults that protect you from illnesses, like tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumococcal disease, shingles, hepatitis A and B, meningococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella, human papillomavirus, and COVID-19. Staying up to date on your immunizations can help you stay healthy and protect your loved ones who may be more susceptible to certain illnesses, like babies or the elderly.
How to Find Your Vaccine Records
As an adult, your vaccination records can be difficult to find. There is no national organization that houses and keeps records of vaccinations. The CDC recommends checking the following places for your vaccine records:
- Ask your parents or caregivers if they have your childhood immunization records
- Try looking through any baby books or other places you may have saved any documents from your childhood
- Your college/university or high school health services office may have a copy of your records. Please note that most academic institutions only keep health records for 1 to 2 years after students leave the system.
- Previous employers may have a copy of your official vaccination records.
- Check with your doctor or healthcare provider. Records are typically only kept for a few years.
- Contact your state health department. Many states have registries, also called Immunization Information Systems, that may contain your records. Acquiring your records in this manner will take several days at least.
What if you can’t find your vaccine records?
Don’t panic! You will likely need to receive your childhood vaccinations again. It is safe to repeat most vaccines. Alternatively, your doctor may be able to perform blood tests to check your immunity levels to different illnesses, but this is not always accurate. If you cannot find your vaccine records, ask your doctor what your next best steps are.
Keeping Track of Immunizations
In order to have an accurate record of your vaccinations, try keeping a personal record of your vaccinations. The CDC publishes a form that can help you keep track of your vaccinations. On this form, you can record the different vaccinations you have received, when you received them, and if there are any follow-up shots. Once you have your vaccination record, you can transfer the information onto the form. Always keep your vaccination record in a safe place where you keep other important documents.
You should bring this form with you to your doctor’s appointments. When you get a vaccination, have your doctor sign off on your vaccination record. Also, make note of what doctor’s office or health clinic administered the vaccination in case you need an official copy of your vaccination record at another time.
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