Vaccination Records for Kids
Keeping up-to-date immunization records for your family, especially your children, is important. You will need your children's immunization records to register them for school, child care, athletic teams, and summer camps or to travel.
Good record-keeping begins with good record-taking. When you need official copies of immunizations records to enroll your child in child care, school, and summer camps or for international travel, they will be much easier to get if you have accurate, up-to-date personal records.
You can get an immunization tracking card from your child's doctor or from your state health department to keep record of your child's vaccines. Or, you can use CDC's Immunization Tracker [331 KB, 2 pages] to record your children's immunizations, developmental milestones, and growth from birth through 6 years old.
Keep your child's immunization record in a safe place where you can easily locate it. Bring the record to each of your child's doctor visits. Ask the doctor or nurse to record the vaccine given, date, and dosage on your child's immunization record. You should also note where your child got the shot – knowing at which doctor's office or clinic your child received a vaccine will help you get official records when you need them.
Finding Official Immunization Records
CDC does not have immunization record information. If you need official copies of immunization records for your child, or if you need to update your personal records, there are several places you can look:
- Check with your child's doctor or public health clinic. However, doctor's offices and clinics may only keep immunization records for a few years.
- Check with your state's health department. You can request a copy of your child's immunization record. Or, you can find out if your child's immunization record is in an Immunization Information System (IIS). An IIS is a computer system that your doctor or public health clinic may use to keep track of immunizations your child has received. Most states have an IIS; contact the IIS in the state where your child received their last shots to see if records exist. See Find Your Child's Immunization Record through Your State's IIS.
- Check with your child's school. Some schools keep on file the immunization records of children who attended. However, these records generally are kept for only a year or two after the student graduates, transfers to another school, or leaves the school system. After a student leaves the school system, records are sent to storage and may not be accessible unless the record is stored in an IIS.
- Check with college medical or student health services for your college-age child. Many colleges provide vaccinations, especially those required for enrollment. Contact your college's medical services or student health department for further information.
If your child's vaccination records cannot be located or are incomplete, your child should be considered susceptible to disease and be vaccinated (or revaccinated) against vaccine-preventable diseases. Children can have their blood tested for antibodies to determine their immunity to certain diseases. However, these tests may not always be accurate, so the doctor may not be sure your child is truly protected. In some cases, doctors may prefer to revaccinate your child for best protection. It is safe for your child to be vaccinated, even if they he or she may have already received that vaccine. Talk to your child's doctor to determine what vaccines are needed to protect against diseases.
You can go to the Immunization Action Coalition's site for more tips on locating old immunization records.
Interpreting Abbreviations on Records
To interpret commonly used acronyms and abbreviations that health care professionals use to record vaccinations, consult theVaccine and Acronyms and Abbreviations list. This list also contains manufacturers' trade names for vaccines and some common abbreviations for vaccine-preventable diseases.