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Records & Requirements

Keeping up-to-date immunization records for your family, especially your children, is important. You will need your children's immunization records to register them for school, child care, athletic teams, and summer camps or to travel.

Recording Immunizations

Good record-keeping begins with good record-taking. When you need official copies of immunizations records to enroll your child in child care, school, and summer camps or for international travel, they will be much easier to get if you have accurate, up-to-date personal records.

You can get an immunization tracking card from your child's doctor or from your state health department to keep record of your child's vaccines. Or, you can use CDC's Immunization Tracker [2 pages] to record your children's immunizations, developmental milestones, and growth from birth through 6 years old. You can also ask your doctor to record the vaccines your child has received in your state’s immunization registry.

Milestone Tracker

Make sure you keep up-to-date personal vaccine records. Ask the doctor or nurse to record each vaccine given on your child's immunization record and write down the name of the doctor's office or clinic.

Keep your child's immunization record in a safe place where you can easily locate it. Bring the record to each of your child's doctor visits. Ask the doctor or nurse to record the vaccine given, date, and dosage on your child's immunization record. You should also note where your child got the shot – knowing at which doctor's office or clinic your child received a vaccine will help you get official records when you need them.

Finding Official Immunization Records

CDC does not have immunization record information. If you need official copies of immunization records for your child, or if you need to update your personal records, there are several places you can look:

  • Check with your child's doctor or public health clinic. However, doctor's offices and clinics may only keep immunization records for a few years.
  • Check with your state's health department. You can request a copy of your child's immunization record. Or, you can find out if your child's immunization record is in an immunization registry, or Immunization Information System (IIS). An IIS is a computer system that your doctor or public health clinic may use to keep track of immunizations your child has received. Most states have an IIS; contact the IIS in the state where your child received their last shots to see if records exist. See Find Your Child's Immunization Record through Your State's IIS.
  • Check with your child's school. Some schools keep on file the immunization records of children who attended. However, these records generally are kept for only a year or two after the student graduates, transfers to another school, or leaves the school system. After a student leaves the school system, records are sent to storage and may not be accessible unless the record is stored in an IIS.

    Places to look for an official immunization record:

    • The doctor's office or clinic where your child gets immunizations
    • Your state health department
    • Schools your child has attended
  • Check with college medical or student health services for your college-age child. Many colleges provide vaccinations, especially those required for enrollment. Contact your college's medical services or student health department for further information.

If your child's vaccination records cannot be located or are incomplete, your child should be considered susceptible to disease and be vaccinated (or revaccinated) against vaccine-preventable diseases. Children 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 for best protection. It is safe for your child to be vaccinated, even if they he or she may have already received that vaccine. Talk to your child's doctor to determine what vaccines are needed to protect against diseases.

You can go to the Immunization Action Coalition's site for more tips on locating old immunization records.

Immunization Records for Adoption and Foster Care

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 you or your child's doctor thinks they are inaccurate.

Learn about vaccines for international adoption, domestic adoption, and care of foster children.

Interpreting Abbreviations on Records

To interpret commonly used acronyms and abbreviations that health care professionals use to record vaccinations, consult the Vaccine and Acronyms and Abbreviations list. This list also contains manufacturers' trade names for vaccines and some common abbreviations for vaccine-preventable diseases.

Preschool children

Your state may require children entering child care or school to be vaccinated against certain diseases. Check with your child's doctor, your child's school, or your health department to learn about your state requirements.

Immunization Requirements for Child Care and School

The CDC does not set immunization requirements for schools or childcare centers. Instead, each state decides which immunizations are required for your child's enrollment and attendance at a childcare facility or school in that state.

Immunization requirements and allowable exemptions may vary by state, and they may be updated and changed regularly.

  • Talk to a staff member to learn what vaccines are required at the school or childcare facility in which you would like to enroll your child. They will be able to provide you with specific information about their requirements.
  • If you would like to know your state's immunization requirements, contact your State's Immunization Program or Department of Health.
  • CDC also has a tool to help find more information about your state's school vaccination requirements. (Select your state under "Grantee" options, your child's level [childcare, kindergarten, middle school, or university/college], and click "Get Results" to view your state vaccination requirements.)