Adoption and Vaccines

If you’re adopting a child, ask for vaccination records so that you can confirm which vaccines the child has already received.

International adoption

Father showing child a globe

Vaccinate according to the U.S. schedule

All international adoptees should receive vaccines according to the United States Childhood Immunization Schedule.

Vaccines your adopted child may need

Ask your adoption coordinator for your child’s vaccination records. The child’s birth country may have vaccines or a vaccination schedule that is different from the recommended immunization schedule in the United States.

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.

If you are unsure whether or not your child was vaccinated, your child’s doctor can have their blood tested for antibodies to determine your child’s immunity to certain diseases. However, these tests may not be accurate. Doctors may prefer to revaccinate for best protection. Talk to your child’s doctor to determine what vaccines are needed to protect against diseases.

Learn about CDC’s role in international adoption and the health of international adoptees.

Father holding baby

See common questions that parents ask about infant immunizations.

Protecting the entire family

You should be up to date on your vaccinations especially specific travel vaccinations before traveling to your child’s country of origin. See detailed information on healthy travel for international adoptions.

It is also very important that any other children or caregivers in your home are up to date on their vaccines.

Learn more health guidance for international adoptions.

Domestic adoption

When you adopt a child who was born in the U.S., ask your adoption coordinator for your child’s official vaccination records. If the records are not available, you may have to search for the records. For tips on locating your child’s vaccination record, see Keeping Track of Vaccine Records.

If you are unable to locate your child’s vaccination records, doctors recommend vaccinating according to the recommended immunization schedule. Your child may be vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases if you are not certain about the vaccines that your child has received. It is safe for your child to be revaccinated.

Work with your child’s doctor to catch up on any vaccines your child needs.

Foster children

Each state’s child welfare agency has different policies about vaccinating foster children. Talk to your child’s caseworker or placement agency about getting consent for routine medical care for your foster child. Once you have permission, ask for any available medical records. A healthcare provider can use these records to determine if your foster child is behind on any vaccines. You should keep records of all vaccines your foster child receives.

Learn about the vaccines that your foster child should receive by reviewing the immunization recommendations; see the Parent-Friendly Immunization Schedule.

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