locating records

In light of the year’s recent meningitis and measles outbreaks, health officials are asking individuals and parents around the world to review theirs and their children’s immunization history. For many, this will likely be a fairly straightforward task. For many others however, this warning may raise one very significant concern: “Where, exactly, can one find these records?”

Given the seemingly ubiquitous presence of databases for almost every conceivable subject in this day and age, a reasonable assumption could be made that somewhere in our cyber-world exists a digital hub consisting of all patients’ immunization history. Unfortunately, this record-keeping method is not completely in practice yet. While computerized immunization registries (also known as Immunization Information Systems) do exist in all 50 states, they are still relatively new – records for the California Immunization Registry for example only extend as far back as the late 1990s – and doctor participation is only voluntary. In addition to these limitations, doctor’s offices and other institutions requiring immunization records typically only hold these records for a finite amount of years. Consequently, as these facts strongly suggest, the significance of being prepared and accepting responsibility for one’s own immunization history cannot be overstated.

Fortunately, every immunization mandates documentation, and for most people, keeping track of one’s immunization records is essentially a case of maintaining and keeping track of an up-to-date file. Doctor’s, pharmacists, and other vaccine providers all offer immunization cards, as well as the CDC, which provides their own form. According to the CDC, “good record-keeping begins with good record-taking.” For parents, this means taking your child’s immunization card to every doctor’s visit and ensuring that all vaccination info is properly recorded, then secured in a secure place.

As well all known however, accidents happen, things are misplaced and before we know it, we’re frantically searching for that important piece of paper desperate to prove we are not in fact some anachronistic disease magnet. But what happens when this documentation actually is lost? Though likely to be an inconvenience, it is still possible to locate. The CDC first recommends that anyone who may have lost their records first contact any organization that may have required proof of their immunizations in the past, such as a school, employer, or even a past healthcare provider (though as mentioned earlier, these organizations only hold these records for a limited number of years).

If these records are still unable to be found, vaccinations may need to be repeated. While this is unlikely to be a very appealing option – for anyone – the CDC emphasizes that “it is not harmful to receive additional vaccine doses.

For more information adult vaccination records, please visit:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/vaccination-records.html

For information on immunization schedules, we recommend visiting:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/child.html