How can I find old immunization records?
Many individuals ask IAC this question. Unfortunately, there is no national organization that maintains this information. Here are some tips on how to find old immunization records.
Tips for tracking down your child's previous shots...
- Check with all your child's previous health care providers. Don't forget visits to your local public health department or neighborhood clinic.
- Look through your old papers--sometimes immunization records are tucked away in a baby book, or included on school or camp medical history forms.
- Check with any schools your child has attended to see if they have retained a record of immunizations required for school entrance. Adolescents might have received certain vaccines (such as hepatitis B vaccine) in school.
- For teens, don't forget about any vaccines that might have been required for college entrance or a job.
- Some areas have centralized immunization registries that keep electronic records of all vaccines given in that area. To ask about the possibility of such a registry in your area, call your state immunization coordinator, and/or the coordinator of any states where your child used to live. State immunization coordinator contact information can be accessed at www.immunize.org/coordinators
- Sometimes when physicians retire or a medical practice changes hands, old patient records are sent to a medical record storage company. It may be possible to obtain records directly from the company for a fee.
- Document any information you discover in writing, including the vaccine name (e.g., "MMR"), date given, and provider or clinic name. Most state health departments can provide you with a child immunization record card (if you cannot locate a child immunization record card, you can download one from the State of Florida Bureau of Immunization at www.doh.state.fl.us/Disease_Ctrl/immune/files/baby_shots_ENG_web.pdf).
Tips for reconstructing an adult's immunization history...
- Ask your parent or early care giver if he/she has any record of your childhood immunizations.
- Look through any old papers saved from your childhood, such as a baby book.
- Ask your high school, post-secondary school, college health service, or previous employers (including the military) for dates of any immunizations, if applicable.
- Understand that it is often not possible to find childhood immunization records of an adult. When you can't document having received a required vaccine in the past, you may have to be re-vaccinated. Receiving extra doses of these vaccines will not harm you. For a few diseases and/or vaccines, you can have blood tests to see if you are immune.
- Document any information you discover in writing, including the vaccine name, date given, and provider or clinic name. You can download an adult immunization record card at www.immunize.org/adultizcards/adultizcard.pdf
For the future...
Finding old immunization records is hard, and for adults, often impossible. To avoid having to hunt for old records and possibly repeating vaccinations that cannot be documented, make sure all immunization providers give you a written record of the vaccine(s) provided. Remember to bring your child's or your immunization record card to all medical appointments (you might want to keep an infant's record in his or her diaper bag, protected by a vinyl sleeve or zip-lock bag). If you maintain an up-to-date copy of your record, you'll be ready to document your immunization history whenever necessary!