What To Do If You Lose Your Child's Vaccination Records
In the United States, public schools typically require parents to prove that their children have been vaccinated against diseases such as measles, polio, and mumps. Summer camps and daycare facilities may also require proof of immunization, making it important for parents to keep good records of school inoculations. If your children's vaccination records were lost due to a recent move or natural disaster, here is what you can do to recover the information you need.
1. Contact previous physicians. If your child has been seeing the same pediatrician since birth, the easiest option is to contact the provider's office and let them know you need copies of your child's immunization records. Your pediatrician may charge a fee to make copies, but it's well worth it to pay the fee so your child does not encounter any records-related obstacles when enrolling in a new school or extracurricular program.
2. Call the state medical board. State law governs how long your doctor must keep medical information on file. If your child's doctor has retired or passed away, that does not mean there is no record of your child's school inoculations. In several states, such as Alaska and California, a child's medical records must be retained for seven years following the child's discharge from the practice or until the child turns 21, whichever is longer. Some states are even stricter when it comes to records retention. For example, providers in Colorado must retain records for 10 years after the patient's last encounter. If you need your child's immunization records, contact the state medical board to determine where your previous physician's records are stored. In some cases, the files have been transferred to another medical facility, but old records may also be stored at commercial records-management facilities.
3. Check with your state immunization registry. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several large cities--such as New York City and Philadelphia--have vaccination registries. If you don't make any headway when you contact your previous physician or your state's medical board, check with your state immunization registry to see if they have information about your child's school inoculations.
Proof of vaccination is often required before your child can enroll in public school, after-school programs and programs offered by private camps and recreation facilities. Keeping these records on file is important, as your child may eventually need proof of immunization before starting a new job or traveling to a foreign country. If you no longer have these records in your possession, contact previous physicians, call your state medical board, or check with your state immunization registry. Once you have the files in your possession again, keep them in a safe-deposit box or a home safe to protect them from fire, water damage, and theft.