A vaccination record card and face mask on a table.

May 10, 2021

Now is a good time to locate and organize you and your family's vaccine records.

“The best time to do this is way before you need them,” says Christopher Levert, MD, internal medicine physician and pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group (MHMG) Katy Primary Care and Pediatrics.

Dr. Levert gives tips on tracing and storing records:

How can you find your children's vaccine records?

Contact your most recent pediatrician. Most doctors keep records for 7years, sometimes longer. But don’t expect immediate results. “Generally, it will take the office 2 weeks,” he says.

Texas also offers ImmTrac2, a free and secure vaccine registry for children and teens. This centralized hub maintains inoculation records from schools, pharmacies, health care providers and public health clinics. More than 9.1 million records from 33,000 organizations currently are stored there.

You can also check with your children’s schools. Most require vaccines and keep records of those.

What vaccines do kids commonly get?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12- to 15-years old.  

The CDC suggests that everyone age 6 months and older gets vaccinated against the flu.

Doctors, schools and daycare centers also urge and sometimes demand children be inoculated against contagious childhood diseases that were devastating in previous generations—and could return.

These include: polio; hepatitis; measles, mumps and rubella; and T-Dap (diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough/acellular pertussis).

Also suggested for youth ages 11 to 26 is the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can contribute to cervical, throat and other cancers.

The CDC also urges those aged 11 to 23 get a meningococcal vaccination. It safeguards students from a contagious and sometimes deadly infection of the sheath of the brain and spinal cord.

Most Texas colleges expect proof of the meningococcal vaccine or a booster dose during the 5-year period prior to enrolling. Those lacking the immunization must get it at least 10 days before their first semester. Medical, dental and veterinarian students may be required to get other vaccines since they may be exposed to bodily fluids.

How do you find your records or those of your parents?

Contact the last primary care doctor you or family members have seen or who would have administered the vaccine, Dr. Levert suggests. As with kids, doctors usually keep records 7 years or longer. But ImmTrac2 does not keep records for adults.

Another avenue is any hospital or clinic where you’ve been admitted, as they often keep records. They also may give pneumonia and flu shots to patients who aren’t known to have been vaccinated.

If you’re not sure what vaccines you have been given, your doctor may be able to take blood tests to find certain antibodies or markers indicating if you’re immune to the diseases that the vaccines prevent, he says.

If you’re not sure what vaccines you have been given, your doctor may be able to take blood tests to find certain antibodies or markers indicating if you’re immune to the diseases that the vaccines prevent, he says.

What are common vaccines adults get?

Vaccines for adults vary based on age and medical history. Flu shots are recommended for all adults; the shingles vaccine for those age 50 and above; and the pneumococcal vaccine against pneumonia/meningitis/bloodstream/systemic infections for those over 65.

People with chronic heart, lung, kidney, liver or other health issues may need to be immunized earlier in life.

Those who are pregnant or are around young children should be vaccinated with the same T-Dap tetanus/whooping cough immunization that children get, Dr. Levert says.

Once Americans resume international travel, further vaccines or boosters may be needed for travel in certain parts of Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. Plan to get boosters a month before your departure.

The CDC’s website offers the latest travel requirements.

“One perk of having documentation of being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 is that it may shorten quarantine times after being exposed to the virus, or during or after travel,” he says.

What is the best way to organize and store vaccine records?

That’s up to you, he says. Office supply retailers sell calendars or albums where you can store records. You also can scan your records and store them in a virus safe box, either on your current laptop or through a mobile app.

Dr. Levert suggests any records be password-protected. “Be sure you trust anyone before you give them your health information.”

“Also bring your vaccination records when you go to new doctors, or first ask your primary care physician to share them as part of their referral,” he adds.

Where will you need to show COVID-19 or other vaccine records?

That’s also yet to be determined, but you may need vaccine records to undergo a medical procedure, see a new doctor, attend college or enter certain workplaces or foreign countries.

If you lose your COVID-19 card, can you get another copy? Is it valid if you laminate it?

Absolutely, on both, Dr. Levert says. The medical clinic or hospital that inoculated you will have records and be able to reissue your card. The county health department where you were vaccinated also may be able to replace your card.

Office suppliers, printers and copy stores are likely to laminate cards.

Protect yourself further by taking photos of your COVID-19 vaccine card, Dr. Levert says. Be wary of posting it on social media, as the information it contains, including your birthdate, could boost your risk of identity theft.

What about vaccine passports?

“At this point, vaccine passports are not in effect,” he says. “They’re being discussed on state and federal levels, but we don’t have a good idea if they’ll be needed or what they would look like.”

The information in this article was accurate as of May 12, 2021.

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