Is Your Adult Vaccination Record Up-To-Date?
An up-to-date vaccination record helps you and your doctors know if you’re protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Use these tips and tools to keep track of your immunizations and find records of the vaccines you have received.
A vaccination record (also called an immunization record) provides a history of all the vaccines you received as a child and adult. Keeping track of the vaccines you’ve received helps make sure you have the best protection possible against serious diseases and saves time and money by ensuring you don’t get unneeded extra doses of a vaccine. When immunization records are misplaced, it can be hard to track down this information. But by doing a bit of research, you can either find or construct your personal vaccination record.
Staying Up-to-date on Vaccination is Important
Every year thousands of adults in the U.S. suffer serious illness, are hospitalized, and even die due to disease for which vaccines are available. Even if you were fully vaccinated as a child, the protection from some vaccines you received can wear off over time. You may also be at risk for other diseases due to your age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions.
Vaccines not only protect you, but reduce the chance you’ll spread illness to other people, like children who are too young to get vaccinated or adults who have weakened immune systems.
Tools to Record Your Vaccinations
Today we move, travel, and change healthcare professionals more than we did in previous generations. Finding old immunization information can be difficult and time-consuming. Keeping an updated immunization record and storing it with other important documents in a safe place will save you time and unnecessary hassle.
Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or other vaccine provider for an immunization record form, or download and use this form[4 pages - 211KB]. Bring this record with you to health visits, and ask your vaccine provider to sign and date the form for each vaccine you receive. That way, you can be sure that the immunization information is current and correct. If your vaccine provider participates in an immunization registry, ask that your vaccines be documented there as well.
Where to Begin Looking for Vaccination Records
If you don’t have your complete vaccination record, you may find some pieces of your vaccination history in places where other important documents are stored.
- Ask parents or other caregivers if they have records of your childhood immunizations.
- Try looking through baby books or other saved documents from your childhood.
- Check with your high school and/or college health services for dates of any immunizations. Keep in mind that generally records are kept only for 1-2 years after students leave the system.
- Check with previous employers (including the military) that may have required immunizations.
- Check with your doctor or public health clinic. Keep in mind that vaccination records are maintained at doctor’s office for a limited number of years.
- Contact your state’s health department. Some states have registries (Immunization Information Systems) that include adult vaccines.
Unfortunately, there is no national organization that maintains vaccination records. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have this information.
What To Do If You Can't Find Your Records
If you can’t find your personal records or records from the doctor, you may need to get some of the vaccines again. While this is not ideal, it is safe to repeat vaccines. The doctor can also sometimes do blood tests to see if you are immune to certain vaccine-preventable diseases.