The Ultimate Guide to Vaccine Records

December 23, 2020

The world has anxiously awaited the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, and last week, the first doses of the vaccine have started to rollout across the United States, with priority being given to high-risk health care workers.

The vaccine rollout has inspired many Americans to ensure that they are up-to-date across all recommended immunizations. Unfortunately, less than 50% of Americans have their full immunization records on hand.

For those who do have partial or full immunization records, PillarLife is the ideal platform to safely store those records, and share with loved ones. You can easily store the vaccination records for yourself, your parents, your partner, your children, and even pets.

If you are one of the many Americans who does not have a comprehensive vaccination record, read through the advice below to learn about the next steps you can take to make sure your record is complete.

What Should Your Vaccine Records Include?

Your vaccination record or immunization record provides a definitive history of all the vaccines that you received as a child and as an adult. It’s just a small part of what should be included in your complete medical record. The vaccine record can often be required for work, travel abroad, and school registration.

The CDC recommends that Adults utilize a standard PDF form to keep track of immunizations. This list includes:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • HPV
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
  • Meningococcal ACWY
  • Meningococcal B
  • Influenza
  • Pneumococcal conjugate
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide
  • Zoster (Shingles)
  • Hib

You can download the form, complete the fields or ask your doctor to update the form, and then upload it into PillarLife for safekeeping.

For children, there is a separate standard form for kids from birth through age six. This list includes many of the vaccinations shown above, as well as:

  • Rotavirus
  • Inactivated Poliovirus

You can find the essential newborn checklist document guide here. You can ask your child’s doctor or nurse to update the form and then upload it into PillarLife for each child in your family. It is important to keep these records safe and easily accessible so that they can be shared with schools, extracurricular activities, or other caretakers when required.

When writing down immunization record information, make sure to include the vaccine name, date, dosage, and the name of the doctor’s office or clinic where the vaccination was administered so that you will remember where to reach out in case of any follow-ups.

It’s important for you to save and update vaccine records diligently, as they are often required to register for schools, child care services and athletic teams as well as for international travel.

How Can I Locate My Vaccine Records?

There is currently no national organization in the United States that maintains an official or complete immunization record, so there is no central database that can help you to create a complete record of your vaccinations or immunizations.

The best places to seek information about your prior vaccinations, if you don’t already have the full record among your files, include:

  1. Talk with your parents or other childhood care providers to find out whether they have your childhood vaccination records in their files. Make sure to request that they look through baby books or other saved documents from your childhood, as sometimes these files get stored together.
  2. Contact your doctor to ask whether they may have a copy of your vaccination record. Keep in mind that most medical offices only keep these types of records for a limited number of years.
  3. Some states have immunization registries called Immunization Information Systems (IIS) that may include adult vaccine records. This type of immunization registry could have your immunization information, but you’ll need to check on a state by state basis.
  4. Contact your high school or college health service organization. While most schools keep records for one to two years after students are no longer enrolled, it can be helpful to find out whether those records are still available. You can also check with other healthcare providers that you have used in the past.
  5. Check with previous employers (including the military) that may have required immunizations. They may still have your records available.

Board-certified pediatrician Dr. Vincent Iannelli, MD, says, “you might also review your full medical records… it may be that even if you don’t have your vaccine schedule, you may be able to recreate it using your doctor’s or nurse’s notes.”

Once you have your complete immunization information and immunization history, you should store it all in one place that’s easily accessible going forward. If you’re not sure how to organize medical records or what your medical records rights are, you can check out this guide here.

What If I Really Can’t Find My Records?

If you are unable to find your vaccination records, you may need to do some blood tests (which is also referred to as ‘checking titers,’ ‘titer tests’ or ‘serologic testing’) to find out whether you have antibodies to certain vaccine-preventable diseases, or even get some vaccinations again.

Titer tests can typically include Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps or Rubella, and Tetanus. There are no titer tests currently available for varicella, polio, pertussis, or Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). There may be costs associated with titer tests that are not covered by insurance, so talk to your doctor to determine the next best steps. 

As journalist Anna Borges wrote for SELF Magazine in 2019, “Doctors see it all the time—their patients don’t have contact with their childhood caregivers, they moved around, they got most of their vaccinations before there were electronic records, or they don’t know their health history for any other number of reasons… you can either keep the record physically or digitally, but as you may know from experience, it’s usually a lot easier to lose important physical papers than digital ones.”

We couldn’t agree more. Make sure to upload relevant information that you need to store about your vaccine history into Pillar for peace of mind.

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