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Adoption and Vaccines

International Adoption

Vaccinate according to the U.S. schedule

All international adoptees should receive vaccines according to the U.S. Childhood Immunization Schedule. In addition, a child's birth country may have vaccines or a vaccination schedule that is different from the recommended immunization schedule in the United States.

How do I know what vaccines my adopted child needs?

You should ask your adoption coordinator for your child's immunization records. An internationally adopted child should be considered susceptible to disease and be vaccinated (or revaccinated) against vaccine-preventable diseases if vaccination records:

  • cannot be located,
  • are incomplete,
  • cannot be understood, or
  • if the you or your child's doctor thinks they are inaccurate.

If you are unsure as to whether or not your child was vaccinated, the doctor can have their blood tested for antibodies to determine their immunity to certain diseases. However, these tests may not always be accurate, so the doctor may not be sure your child is truly protected. In some cases, doctors may prefer to revaccinate your child anyway for best protection. It is safe for your child to be revaccinated, even if your child received that vaccine in their birth country. Talk to your child's doctor to determine what vaccines are needed to protect against diseases.

Protecting the entire family

Adopted children are not the only ones who should be up to date on vaccinations. You should be up to date on your vaccinations. You should also be sure to have specific vaccinations for travel before traveling to your child's country of origin. It is very important to make sure that any other children or caregivers in the adopted child's new home are up to date on their vaccinations as well. By ensuring that adopted children are healthy and up to date on their vaccines, you will prevent the spread of disease in your family and community.

The Travelers' Health website provides information on the vaccinations recommended before traveling to the country you are visiting. It also provides specific information on healthy travel for international adoptions.

See the Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth through 6 Years Old to determine the vaccines your internationally adopted child may need.

Learn more health guidance for international adoptions.

Keep track of your child's vaccines using the Well Child Visit Tracker [331 KB, 2 pages] (for children from birth through 6 years old).

See common questions that parents ask about infant immunizations.

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Domestic Adoption

When adopting a child domestically, you should ask your adoption coordinator for your child's official immunization records. If the records are not available, you may have to search for the records.

a young ethnic father holds his newborn baby close.

See common questions that parents ask about infant immunizations.

For tips on locating your child's vaccination record, see Finding Official Immunization Records.

You can also contact your state immunization program for more information about places to find your child's vaccination records.

If you are unable to locate your child's immunization records, medical experts recommend vaccinating. Your child may be left vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases if you are not certain about the vaccinations that your child has received. It is safe for your child to be vaccinated, even if they may have already received that vaccine. Vaccinating is the best way to ensure protection.

Keep track of your child's vaccines using the Well Child Visit Tracker [331 KB, 2 pages] (for children from birth through 6 years old).


Foster Children

Each state's Child Welfare Agency has different policies about immunizing foster children. However, in most cases, as a foster parent, you need to get consent for emergency and routine medical care for your foster child. You should talk to your child's caseworker or the agency that placed your child with you about getting consent. Once you have permission, you should ask your child's caseworker for any available medical records. You can use these records to figure out whether or not your foster child is behind in any immunization. If your child is not up-to-date on their immunizations, you should make an appointment with a doctor. As a foster parent, you should keep records of all vaccinations a foster child receives under your care.

See more information about recording vaccinations.

Learn about the vaccines that your foster child should receive by reviewing the immunization recommendations: For Everyone: Easy-to-read Schedules.

Keep track of your foster child's vaccines using the Well Child Visit Tracker [331 KB, 12 pages] (for children from birth through 6 years old).

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