Vaccinations are a major part of how we stay healthy. From the time children are born, parents are encouraged to start a regimen of childhood immunizations that will help keep their kids —and others — safe from diseases later in life.
However, unless you keep accurate records of these childhood vaccinations, it can be difficult for them to know in the future what exactly they’ve been immunized against. And as the current health crisis unfolds, it’s becoming more and more important to keep accurate up to date vaccination records for you and your children.
In this post, we’ll talk about the importance of keeping up to date vaccination records for your children, how you can safely store your kid’s immunization information, how to track down old immunization records, and how you can best maintain your children’s vaccination history so your family’s medical records are accurate and up to date.
Why Is It Important to Keep a Record of Children's Immunization Information?
Keeping track of your children’s vaccination information is critical because it’s the only way to ensure that they will not end up susceptible to serious and dangerous infections. It’s also becoming a mandatory requirement for public schools and universities in several states. Keeping a detailed vaccine record can also help ensure that you adhere to CDC recommended immunization schedules.
Vaccines are a truly life-changing advancement that have helped us virtually eliminate the risk of several types of diseases that were once considered to be life-threatening, such as:
- The measles
- and more
In addition to prevention, your vaccination history is an important part of your medical records. Recording this information will help your children later in life to understand any new diseases that they may come into contact with. For example, knowing whether an adult was vaccinated against chickenpox would help a doctor diagnose a case of shingles.
Access to an accurate up to date vaccination history can help prevent future misdiagnosis and potentially avoid your child receiving the wrong type of treatment both now and in the future.
How to Save Your Child’s Vaccination Records
By law, your children’s medical information has to be documented and stored by their doctor, clinic, hospital, or other healthcare provider. However, if you change doctors or even move to another city, then that could cause you to lose access to their medical records and make it difficult to know your children’s full medical history.
That’s why the CDC recommends that every parent maintains their own complete record of their child’s immunization history. They even have a simple 2-page tracker that you can download and print here.
Here are the steps for using your child’s immunization record:
- Bring your children’s vaccination record with you to every doctor’s visit. Don’t just take it to the ones where they plan to receive a vaccination. By making this a regular habit, it will enable you to always have your child’s complete immunization history on hand before each trip. Plus, if a question comes up about a particular vaccine, you’ll have the complete immunization record handy.
- Ask the doctor or nurse to fill out the vaccine record. Don’t try to rely on your memory or notes to fill out the immunization record. Ask the medical staff to (legibly!) write in the name of the vaccine, the dosage, and date so that your child’s vaccination history is clear and complete.
- Note the healthcare provider where the vaccination took place. This way, if you ever do need to track down the doctor and request an official medical record, you’ll be able to.
- Keep the records safe. Similar to a birth certificate or other important documents, don’t just throw the vaccination records into a stack of papers with all of your other miscellaneous documents. Put it someplace safe that is also easy for you to access. You can also scan and store important medical documents in a safe, secure cloud storage option like Pillar.
How to Get Your Immunization Records
Unfortunately, despite the importance of getting vaccinated, there is no national vaccine registry where your personal immunization history is recorded. For instance, the CDC doesn’t have any records of which shots you’ve had or other personal immunization information.
However, each state has an immunization registry where your children’s vaccination history must be reported. Unfortunately, like most things in the U.S. the requirements vary from state to state. Each state can maintain their own version of this database at their discretion. This also means that information will not necessarily pass from one border to the next.
That can pose a problem if you’re trying to track down your vaccination records (or those of someone you’re caring for). But that doesn’t mean you’re without options. Here are a few ways you might be able to track down your child’s immunization records, even if you’ve moved:
- Parents or guardians. Start at the source. Parents will often save these types of medical records in a filing cabinet or possibly even their safe with their other important documents. They might also be kept with keepsakes like a baby book.
- An old elementary or high school. Sometimes schools will request copies of your child’s vaccination records before they can attend school. So, it's possible they may have this immunization information on file. This is becoming increasingly common, and if healthcare trends continue, should be a reliable source of vaccine information in the future.
- Previous employers. If you worked for an employer that required an immunization history (such as the military, police academy, or even Disneyland), you may be able to request a copy of your vaccination record.
- Pediatricians. If you recall the name of your childhood doctor and their practice is still active, you can check if they have your records on file. However, bear in mind that doctors’ offices are not required to keep records on file indefinitely. They will usually purge these documents shortly after the minor turns 18 (depending on the state’s individual medical record-keeping requirements).
What If You Can’t Find Your Child’s Immunization Records?
If you’ve exhausted all of your options and still can’t find your child’s vaccination records, you have two final options:
- Take a blood test. Some vaccines are still traceable even years later in your blood system. Consult your doctor to find out which ones you’re interested in discovering and if blood work would reveal any results about your vaccination history.
- Repeat the vaccination. When in doubt, it's generally recommended that you get vaccinated again. According to the CDC, this is not known to cause any problems or harmful side effects. You should absolutely consult with your primary care physician so that all of the risks are carefully considered against your current medical state, but remember that getting another vaccination is an option.
The Best Way to Maintain Your Child’s Vaccination Records
Paper copies of your kid’s vaccination records can be a convenient way to bring them with you to your children’s doctors’ appointments. However, for long-term storage, hard copies are susceptible to loss, damage, or just degrading over time. Don’t let your precious vaccination records or other important medical documents be destroyed in a fire or flood.
Make digital copies of these important medical records whenever possible and store them in a safe, secure online location where you can access them from anywhere whenever you need them.
The easiest way to collect and store your family’s important medical, financial, and legal records is to digitize and organize them into one convenient online vault. Pillar lets you scan and store these documents in one safe, secure location and share personal information only with the people you choose.
Start your free 14-day trial with absolutely no obligation and see if Pillar is right for your family.