Who Keeps Childhood Immunization Records?
Immunizing your child can prevent your little one from catching a debilitating disease and help to eradicate certain diseases for good, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 45. Starting at birth, your child will receive a series of vaccines at most of her "well" visits to the pediatrician's office. While the doctor may know when she gives your child each immunization, she will also keep detailed vaccination records that she -- or you -- may share when necessary.
The Pediatrican's Office
Your child's pediatrician will typically maintain a comprehensive medical file that includes his well visits, illnesses, test results, developmental issues, height and weight, vision and hearing stats and immunizations. The doctor's immunization record-keeping system should include the name of the vaccine, date that the vaccine was given and dates of any necessary booster shots. If you switch pediatricians, the new doctor will ask for copies of your child's up-to-date immunization record. The new doctor can then add to the current record and continue to maintain it.
Although you can always get a copy of your child's immunization dates from her pediatrician's office, you can also keep your own record. The CDC suggests that parents maintain their own family vaccination records in order to track their child's immunization dates and have their own copies available to provide for school, sports or camp health forms. You can create your own record that lists all of your child's vaccinations in one place. Instead of copying the dates and vaccines from the information that the doctor gives you, take your own record to each pediatrician appointment and ask the nurse or medical assistant to add the new ones.
State Immunization Departments
Aside from your child's pediatrician's office keeping its own records, many states require doctors to report vaccinations. Your state's immunization or health department will typically have a record of your child's schedule. For example, the Washington State Department of Health's Immunization Information System is a vaccination registry that doctors can use to upload patients' immunization records 3. Not every doctor's office uses this system; therefore, ask your child's pediatrician if her office chooses to utilize it.
Depending on where you live, your local school district, county or state will have immunization requirements for school entry. Additionally, most schools require that parents submit proof of boosters or later-childhood vaccinations as your child moves through the elementary, middle and high school years. For example, the Virginia Department of Health sets immunization requirements that state what vaccines a child must have for kindergarten entry and throughout the school years 13. The school will require you to submit a copy of your child's immunization record that it will file in an administrative or health office.
- Virginia Department of Health: School Requirements
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2013 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old
- Washington State Department of Health: Information for Parents
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccination Records for Kids
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Immunize?
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