How to Find a Complete Vaccination Record
As more and more cities and businesses are considering asking for proof of COVID vaccination before letting you do fun things before a pandemic, like watching a movie or eating at an indoor restaurant, you’ve probably already thought that you will do if you lose your vaccination card. … However, what about the records of all other vaccines, including those you can’t even remember? Before we all got the COVID-19 vaccine, we were vaccinated against diseases like measles, mumps, polio, hepatitis and all other planned childhood vaccinations.
There are a number of situations in which you may need to prove your vaccination status for these diseases, such as when you are going to university or when traveling abroad. As with the COVID-19 vaccine, there is no national database or organization to track this information, which means that if you lose your records, you will have to search for them.
Given the years and / or decades that may have passed since these images were obtained, this process can get complicated, especially if you have moved a lot or no longer communicate with your family. However, there are ways to either find your complete medical history, or at least prove that you have been vaccinated in the past.
Where to Look for Childhood Vaccination Records
According to the CDC, there are several possible ways to find vaccination records :
- Ask a parent or other caregiver if they have a record of your childhood vaccinations.
- Try looking through children’s books or other saved documents from your childhood.
- Contact your high school and / or college health service for the dates of any vaccinations. Keep in mind that records are typically only retained for 1–2 years after students leave the system.
- Check with previous employers (including the military) who may need vaccinations.
- Check with your doctor or government clinic. Keep in mind that vaccination records are kept at the doctor’s office for a limited number of years.
- Check with your state health department . Some states have registries (immunization information systems) that include vaccines for adults.
You may also need to call the hospital where you were born, as the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine is usually given at birth.
If you hunt enough, chances are good that you will find documents somewhere confirming your childhood vaccinations, whether they are originals or later forms requiring proof of vaccinations. Wherever you think they might be, start digging in the hope you find the evidence you need.
What if you can’t find these records anywhere ?
If you’ve searched and searched and searched, called every doctor’s office and hospital that might hold your records, and have exhausted every possible option you could think of, there are still options for you. For starters, if you really need to, you can get the vaccines again. Sure, taking another round of shots isn’t fun, but it’s safe.
Another option is that for some vaccines , such as chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis A, B, and C, you can get an antibody titer to demonstrate your immunity. This process can demonstrate immunity even if you contracted the disease rather than receiving the vaccine.
For example, the varicella-zoster vaccine was released in 1995, which means that many people still have acquired immunity by contracting the disease rather than being vaccinated. An antibody titer test will tell you if you have antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus , although the test will not tell you whether you were vaccinated against it or contracted the disease as a child. Either way, you have antibodies that demonstrate that your immune system can defend against the virus, and that’s what whoever asks you for your records really wants to know.
How to keep vaccination records and not do it over and over
If you, like many of us, are rather absent-minded about working with documents after you’ve done the hard work of keeping track of your records, you don’t need to do it over and over again next time. (Your future will be grateful to you.)
To avoid looking up your records again, take the advice of the Immunization Action Coalition to provide proof of vaccination to either your healthcare provider or your local public health clinic and ask them to enter your vaccination information on the official record. If your state or local health department has an immunization registry, send it there as well. This will give you a “vendor verified” record, which is often a requirement for proof of vaccination anyway. The more places that have this information, the better for you.