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FAQs: Questions Received Frequently by CDC-INFO

Graphic: CDC-INFO You have questions? We have answers. CDC's national contact center and publications fulfillment system

How can I get a copy of a birth, death, marriage, or divorce certificate (vital records)?

The federal government does not distribute vital records such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. To obtain a vital record, please contact the state vital records office where the event occurred.

Go to the CDC/NHES "Where to Write for Vital Records" website, then click on the state where the birth, death, marriage, or divorce occurred. [Look under “F” for Foreign Birth and Death Certificates (and marriage records).] You may need to scroll down the page to locate the requested vital record information (birth, death, marriage, divorce).

For more information, please visit the following CDC resources:

Where to Write for Vital Records: Foreign Birth and Death Certificates
National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics

National Center for Health Statistics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Can you diagnose my illness or give me advice on my medical condition?

CDC does not have public hospitals or doctors’ offices. CDC does not see patients, diagnose illnesses, give specific opinions or advice about symptoms, provide medical or veterinary treatment, or prescribe medicine.

If you think you need medical care, please see a doctor or healthcare provider right away. If you don’t have a doctor, you may want to use the following non-CDC resources to help you find a clinic or other healthcare provider in your area:

HRSA Find a Health Center
Health Resources and Services Administration

NACCHO Directory of Local Health Departments
National Association of County & City Health Officials

Where can I get a copy of my (or my child's) immunization or vaccine records?

CDC does not store personal vaccination records. There is not a national organization that maintains vaccination records. Some doctors, schools, and communities might use registries (or “Immunization Information Systems”) to keep track of vaccinations. However, most often the only existing records are the ones you or your parents were given when the vaccines were administered, or those in the medical record of the doctor or clinic where the vaccines were given.

If you’re having a hard time finding you or your child’s vaccine records, contact:

  • The doctor(s) or clinic(s) where you or your child got vaccinated;
  • Schools or student health centers; or
  • Your local or state health department.

Keep in mind that doctor’s offices, clinics, and schools only keep vaccine records for a few years. Some doctors, schools, and communities may use a computerized Immunization Information System to keep track of children’s vaccine records.

You should also check family records, such as baby books or military records.

If you still can’t find the vaccine records, you or your child might need to:

  • Repeat some of the vaccines; or
  • Get a blood test to find out if you are immune to (protected from) certain diseases.

For more information, please visit the following CDC resources:

Recommendations and Guidelines: Vaccination Records: Finding, Interpreting, and Recording
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Immunization Services Division

You may also wish to visit the following non-CDC websites:

Vaccine Administration Record for Children and Teens, March 2011
Immunization Action Coalition [396 KB, 6 pages]

Tips for Finding Old Immunization Records
Immunization Action Coalition

What vaccines should I receive before traveling to ________?

CDC gives you general recommendations about staying healthy when you travel. You should discuss these recommendations with your doctor to find out which vaccines and medicines are best for you.

Before you travel, you should be up-to-date on routine vaccines, such as:

  • Tetanus;
  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella); and
  • Seasonal influenza (flu).

To find out about other vaccinations and medications you might need:

  • Go to the CDC Travelers’ Health website.
  • Under “For Travelers,” use the drop-down menu to select your destination.
  • Read the “Vaccines and Medicines” chart.

Not all the vaccines and medicines in this chart are appropriate for everyone. You should talk to a doctor (ideally, at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip) to find out which vaccines and medicines are right for you.

Remember that not all illnesses can be prevented by a vaccine, so read the “Stay Healthy and Safe” section for information on other steps you can take to protect your health.

For general information on ways to stay healthy and safe when you travel, visit the Traveler Information Center.

Please visit the following CDC resources for more information: