How to Find Your Vaccine History—and Store It Safely

If you want to update an incomplete IIS record, you can request immunization records from previous health care providers, local (city or state) health departments, or your state health department. The CDC recommends checking with parents or caregivers (including checking saved files and baby books), previous schools or employers (including the military), doctor’s offices or health clinics, and state health departments for vaccination records. You can find more tips on finding old vaccination records here. Once you find additional records, you can ask your medical provider to update your records in your state’s IIS system.

Keep in mind that IIS functionality varies by state: The advantage of IIS systems is that they contain official records that users can access and vaccination data is automatically updated as long as the user stays in the state and does not log out. However, systems in some states provide limited access to immunization records, and most do not include immunizations administered prior to the system’s release. While IIS systems are bound by CDC privacy standards, users should review their state’s system and standards to decide whether the benefits of accessing official immunization records are worth individual privacy concerns.

In my home state of Maryland, users can log in and request access to their records, but in my current state of Texas, users must submit an official record request by mail, fax, or email and then wait for a paper copy of their immunization record to be mailed. For me it took a month.

While the Texas registry securely consolidates and stores immunization records from multiple sources (healthcare providers, pharmacies, public health clinics, Medicaid claims administrators, state health services, etc.) in one centralized system, it was designed so that only physicians, schools, child care centers, public health providers, and other authorized healthcare organizations can access it directly, and even then only for patients who have opted in. Texas vaccination records cannot be viewed online by the general public, including parents or attorneys, according to Guardians. However, many government IIS systems and pharmacies offer both online and mobile app access to your personal vaccination history.

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Start over: What should you do if, like me, you can’t find your childhood vaccination records? According to the CDC, repeat vaccination is not ideal, but it may be appropriate in some cases. In some cases, blood tests may be done to determine your immunity to certain diseases and what vaccinations you should receive as an adult. So, discuss your options with your doctor.

How to save your recordings in the future

If you want your official vaccination record to be stored and updated, using your state’s IIS system is the most logical option. If this system doesn’t meet your needs, there are other options. Salley says: “It really comes down to who is responsible for maintaining medical records, the individual or the government? It is easy for individuals to keep track of vaccines and it is beneficial for them to do so.”

There are a number of mobile apps (e.g. SMART Health Card, Express Scripts and Docket Immunization Records) that store official vaccination data. You can also maintain your own list of vaccination dates and locations in your phone’s notes section or in your contacts at any time. Note, however, that user-saved records of vaccination dates and providers, while helpful for reference, are not official records. In addition to being verifiable, official vaccine documentation includes the date of administration, manufacturer, lot number of vaccine, name and title of administrator, and facility address.

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