How to Create and Keep Track of Your Vaccination History

Protect your health by documenting your immunizations.

smiling woman receiving vaccine

Updated on June 16, 2022.

Ever hear the saying that something’s only as good as the effort you put into it? It certainly applies to your immunization record. This valuable document keeps track of your immunization history—from when you were a baby until the present. 

Not only is important to have a record of your vaccinations, it’s critical to keep it updated. If you are just starting to make one—or thinking about it—here’s where to begin. 

Why immunization records are critical

Each year, vaccine-preventable diseases cause many thousands of long-term illnesses, hospitalizations, and even deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But being vaccinated on time can help protect you against them, including pneumococcal disease, COVID-19, the flu, HPV, shingles, tetanus, and pertussis, to name a few. And by no means should you assume vaccines are just for kids. Some shots require boosters in adulthood; others have become available just within the last two decades.

Creating a vaccination record 

Though the emergence of electronic health records (EHRs) promises a more streamlined method of collecting and organizing personal medical data such as vaccinations, up until recent years there has been no one-stop, go-to tool for this purpose. So, if you don’t have an existing, up-to-date immunization record it is up to you, the individual, to gather the material.

While it’s true that vaccine tracking can be a daunting task, there are several places and people that may have your immunization information on hand. Start by checking with the following: 

  • Your parents or other caregivers
  • Current and former healthcare providers (HCPs)
  • Scrapbooks from your childhood 
  • Your high school or college 
  • Previous employers 

In addition, all states’ health departments keep immunization registries, though they may not cover all ages. 

Once you’ve found all the personal vaccination information you can, take it to your HCP and ask to have it documented in an official immunization record and in any applicable registries. Then keep your supporting materials in a safe place, such as a safe. 

If you can’t get your hands on certain records, ask your HCP what to do. Blood tests can tell if you’ve received certain shots and eliminate unnecessary immunizations.

Keeping your immunization record updated 

With the hard work out of the way, be sure to keep your immunization record current. Your HCP should update it with new vaccinations or booster shots. If you meet with a new HCP, bring a hard copy to any visits or have a digital copy sent to the office beforehand. Make sure all new shots are added to the file. It’s also smart to keep a personal record—say, in your wallet. 

Bottom line: Sure, collecting and keeping your immunization record takes time and effort. But it’s the best way to make sure you’re protected against serious diseases down the road. 

Article sources open article sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Information for Adults: Vaccine-Preventable Adult Diseases. March 30, 2022. Accessed June 13, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Information for Adults: Keeping Your Vaccine Records Up to Date. May 2, 2016. Accessed June 13, 2022. Tips for Finding Vaccine Records. March 18, 2021. Accessed June 13, 2022. Electronic Health Records. December 1, 2021. Accessed June 13, 2022. What is an electronic health record (EHR)? September 10, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2022.

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