Welcome to the Vaccines and Immunizations website.
Skip directly to the search box, site navigation, or content.

Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Vaccines & Immunizations

Recommendations and Guidelines

Vaccination Records: Finding, Interpreting, and Recording

Where to find vaccination / immunization records

Where are my (or my child's) immunization records?

There is no central repository of vaccination records. The only records that exist are the ones you or your parents were given when the vaccines were administered, and the ones in the medical record of the doctor or clinic where the vaccines were given. Sometimes schools hold the vaccination records of children who attended, but these records are usually not kept for more than a year or two.

If you cannot locate your personal record or the record from your doctor, it may be necessary to repeat some of the vaccines or arrange blood tests to determine your immunity.

Where can I look for existing immunization records?
Children's records
  • Try calling your local or state health department's immunization program.
  • Sometimes schools hold the vaccination records of children who attended, but these records are generally not kept for more than a year or two or, at the longest, until graduation. After a student graduates, records are sent to storage and may not be accessible.
  • Look for family records such as a baby book.
  • Check for records with your doctor or public health clinic. Please keep in mind, however, that immunization records are maintained for a limited number of years, and then usually only by the medical provider who actually administered the vaccines.
College student's records
  • Many colleges provide vaccinations (often, certain vaccinations are required for enrollment). Contact your college's medical services department (student health) for further information.
Military records
  • Check your military records.

Consult the Immunization Action Coalition's site for more tips on locating immunization records. (exit)

top of page

Tracking vaccinations

Who is responsible for keeping immunization records?

In most states, it is the responsibility of the parents of school-aged children, not family doctors, to provide vaccination records to the health department and to schools.

Today we move, travel, and change health providers more than we did in previous generations. Also, doctor's offices and clinics store records of children's vaccinations and the dates they were received only for a few years. If you keep an accurate record, you will be more likely to remember when to bring your children in for the next visit. These records also can prove that your children are up to date with their immunizations. In most states, children are not allowed to enter school or childcare unless they can prove that they meet all school immunization requirements.

Your doctor or clinic will be happy to give you an immunization record form for your use. Bring this record with you whenever you take your child to the doctor or clinic, and ask the doctor to sign and date the form each time a vaccination is given. That way, you can be sure that the immunization information is current and correct.

Finally, make sure you know if your doctor participates in an immunization registry. However, keep in mind tha very few registries existed prior to the mid-1990's.

top of page

Recording vaccinations

The printable (.pdf) documents listed here include instructions and sample records for documenting the administration of vaccines, including combination vaccines.

Sample vaccine record form for CHILDREN and TEENS

printable versionAdobe PDF document (exit) (4 pages)
Sample records include all recently licensed vaccines: MCV, HPV, Rota, Tdap, zoster

Note: You may also visit Immunization Action Coalition's site to purchase child & teen record forms (exit) in mass (250 per box).

Sample vaccine record form for ADULTS

printable version Adobe PDF document (exit) (2 pages)

Note: You may also visit Immunization Action Coalition's site to purchase adult forms (exit) in mass (250 per box).

Sample vaccine record form for LIFETIME

The lifetime record forms (exit) are only available for purchase at Immunization Action Coalition's website.

Sample letter for individuals/clinics to use to inform providers of vaccinations received outside the doctor's office fo CHILDREN and ADULTS

printable version Adobe PDF document (exit) (1 page)

top of page

Interpreting abbreviations on records

Consult the Vaccine and Acronyms and Abbreviations list to interpret the commonly used acronyms and abbreviations used by healthcare providers to record vaccinations on health-records. It also contains manufacturers' trade names for vaccines and some common abbreviations/acronyms for vaccine-preventable disease organisms. For other acronyms and abbreviations used on this site, see Acronyms page.

For records recorded in foreign languages, consult the table of "Aids to Translating Foreign Immunization Records." Adobe PDF document (.pdf - 20 pages)

top of page

Immunization registries' role

What are Immunization Information Systems and who benefits from them?

Immunization Information Systems are computerized information systems that collect vaccination histories and help ensure correct and timely immunizations, especially for children.

Healthcare Providers use registries to

  • obtain a complete, accurate immunization history for a new or continuing patient
  • produce official immunization records
  • reduce paperwork
  • manage vaccine inventories
  • introduce new vaccines or changes in the vaccination schedule
  • help interpret the complex immunization schedule
  • provide coverage data for health insurance plans and other national organizations

Communities use registries to

  • identify populations at high risk for vaccine-preventable diseases
  • target immunization interventions and resources efficiently

Parents working with their healthcare provider(s), can use registries systems to

  • be notified when immunizations are due or late
  • obtain an accurate, official immunization history for personal use and for daycare, school, or camp entry requirements
  • consolidate records for all immunizations a child has received
  • help ensure that a child's immunizations are up to date
  • help ensure timely immunization for children if families move or switch healthcare providers
  • prevent unnecessary (duplicative) immunization

Note: No universal registry system now exists. Registries in one state or area may not be compatible with other registries, and information may have to be manually transferred from registry to registry. Also, to protect personal information in registries, this information cannot be directly retrieved by individuals.

To learn more about Immunization Registries and ensuring the confidentiality of registry information, consult the Immunization Registries area of the National Immunization Program's web site at:

Non-CDC Link Disclaimer: Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization web pages found at these links.

.pdf files: To view and print the .pdf files on this site, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. Use this link to obtain a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader (exit). We highly recommend that you upgrade to the latest version if haven't already.

This page last modified on March 13, 2008
Content last reviewed on February 23, 2007
Content Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

Quick Links

Safer Healthier People

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A
Public Inquiries: 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636); 1-888-232-6348 (TTY)

Vaccines and Immunizations