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Tips for Locating an Immunization Record

It’s important to save and update your family’s vaccine records,since you’ll likely be asked to provide them throughout your life.

Immunization Records are Needed Across the Lifespan

Immunization records will be needed when you or a family member:

  • Enter and continue to attend school or childcare. Immunization records are required for entry into and continued attendance in childcare, kindergarten and school, college, and other post-high school education and training in North Carolina. These records will be needed if you move from one school to another, attend an out-of-state school, or a return to school later in life. Some jobs require proof of certain immunizations.
  • Begin or change careers within the health care field. People in the health care field will need proof that they are immune to certain vaccine preventable diseases. Having a copy of your immunization record will save time and reduce the need for additional immunizations or tests.
  • Expect a baby or plan a pregnancy. Pregnant woman who are not fully vaccinated are at higher risk of serious health effects for themselves and their babies from certain vaccine preventable diseases. It is important to share a copy of your immunization record with your health care provider if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
  • Travel internationally. Learn what vaccines are needed in destinations around the world, along with alerts and warnings about vaccine preventable diseases circulating in countries you may be visiting.
  • Become exposed to a vaccine preventable disease. Thousands of North Carolinians are exposed to vaccine preventable diseases each year – such has tetanus or hepatitis. If you are exposed, your immunization record will assist your health care provider and local health department in determining whether you are at risk of contracting that disease.
  • Change health care providers. Your new healthcare provider will want to see your immunization record.

Tips for Keeping Track of Immunization Records

Keeping track of your family’s immunization records will save time and the inconvenience of getting revaccinated. Here are some tips:

  • Start tracking your child’s vaccination record as soon as they get their first shot at birth. Keep it in a vinyl sleeve or sealable plastic bag. Have a back-up copy where you store your important papers.
  • Your baby will have many trips to the doctor the first couple of years, so keep it in a handy place like your wallet or their diaper bag.
  • Ask your doctor or clinic to enter the vaccines your child received inthe North Carolina Immunization Registry (NCIR). This is a statewide immunization registry doctors and public health clinics use to save and update vaccination records.
  • Bring the record to each doctor visit – you may not know an immunization is due and you will want the card updated. Don’t forget to bring the record if you are vaccinated at a pharmacy. Ask your healthcare provider to write in the vaccine given, date, and dosage on the record.
  • Write down the name of the doctor’s office or clinic where your family receives immunizations so you know where to get official records if you need them.
  • Adults need vaccines too. Ask your medical provider to record your vaccines on an immunization record. Providers can download an adult immunization record card if they do not have one.

If You Don’t Find Your Immunization Records

If you can’t find your family’s vaccine records, you may be able to retrieve an official copy by contacting the following:

  • Previous healthcare providers. Don’t forget vaccination visits you made to local public health departments, pharmacies and neighborhood clinics. When physicians retire or a medical practice changes hands, old patient records are often sent to a medical record storage company. You may be able to obtain records directly from the company.
  • North Carolina’s Immunization Registry. Since 2005, an increasing number of immunization records for children in North Carolina have been logged on the North Carolina Immunization Registry (NCIR), a secure electronic database accessible by healthcare providers across the state. Your child's health care provider if they can access their immunization information via NCIR.
  • Child’s school. Most K-12 schools, colleges, and universities keep student vaccination records on file for a year or two after the student graduates or transfers to another school.
  • Family records. Baby books, school or camp applications or old medical records may have immunization information.
  • Military records. These may be a source of immunization information for those who have served in the military.
  • Finding Vaccine Records from Other States. Immunization history from outside of North Carolina will not be available in the North Carolina Immunization Registry (NCIR). Please visit CDC: Contacts for IIS Immunization Records to find out if the state you lived in has a secure electronic database (like NCIR) that your healthcare provider can access, or contact your former healthcare providers.

I Can’t Find Your Family’s Immunization Records – Now What?

Generally, both children and adults will be considered susceptible to disease and should be vaccinated (or revaccinated). It is not harmful to receive additional vaccine doses. For a few vaccines, blood tests can help determine if you’re already immune to certain diseases. However, these tests are not always accurate, and your healthcare provider may prefer to revaccinate. Talk to your doctor to determine the best course of action.

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