When a new patient enters your practice and has no immunization records or has documentation of only a few of them, you’ll want to advise the parent about how to track down these missing records so the child won’t need to repeat doses or be completely revaccinated. While revaccination is not harmful, it is time consuming and inconvenient.
Here are some places a parent can look for a child’s immunization records:
- Check with all previous healthcare providers, including any vaccination visits made to local public health departments, neighborhood clinics, and pharmacies.
- Check at home. Look through old papers, baby books, and school or camp forms.
- Contact any previous schools the child attended for records.
- Finally, if the child is new to your community, there might be vaccination records in an existing immunization registry from their previous community. The parent may need your help in accessing this information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a listing of registry contacts and websites.
Once a child is caught up on his or her vaccinations, remind the parent to bring the child’s immunization record to every medical appointment. Suggest that they keep a back-up copy of these records at home in a place where they store other important papers. And remind the parent that they need to rely on themselves, as well as their providers, to keep these important records on hand.
The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) has created a free, ready-to-print handout for parents titled “Tips for Locating Old Immunization Records.” Make copies for your patients who need help finding records. This information is also available on IAC’s website for parents and the general public.
Along with tips for parents about finding official immunization records, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web page titled Vaccination Records for Kids includes information for parents about recording immunizations and interpreting abbreviations on records.