We were in to see the pediatrician last month for F’s 3 year check up and back again last week for some booster shots for O. During both visits, the medical assistant asked me when the boys had received their H1N1 shots. She wanted to update the clinic’s record. I told her the 31st of October. She came back into the room puzzled,“The State of WA has them recorded on 10/24/10.”
Well, yes, she and the State of Washington were right, I was wrong. You’d think a pediatrician could keep this straight. Well, no, as it turns out. With my over-saturated and over-filled Mama brain, perfectly dated info on shots may be data points that may slip out my right ear. You too, yes? It took me 5 drawers and over a 1/2 hour to locate O’s book (above) to snap that photo. Clearly, organization of personal shot cards is not listed on my CV.
A study last week points out carrying an immunization record for your child can improve their health by increasing the likelihood of staying up to date on shots. When the boys got their H1N1 shots, I didn’t bring their immunization record books. I was all hyped up and excited about getting them and forgot due to my relative glee. I was given a little card at the time, but didn’t transfer the dates into their official books. After discussing and reviewing my trusty phone calendar, we figured it out. Not a big deal but it wasted precious time for the staff in the clinic.
This year, in particular, has been nutty for pediatricians and families organizing info on vaccines because of the way H1N1 has been distributed in various states. Many children received their H1N1 shots outside of their pediatrician’s office.
A study published last week brings merit to keeping and carrying your child’s immunization record or book. Particularly if you don’t follow the recommended AAP schedule or your child has received immunizations from multiple different physician offices. The study found that if you carried and kept a shot record for your child you could increase the odds by 62% that your child would be truly, up to date. Often, parents feel their child is up to date when in reality they’re not. This is often because of updated recommendations, a messy, incomplete record, or new boosters children need. Carrying and keeping the records yourself can clear up confusion, dispel doubt and sometimes avoid unnecessary re-dos to immunizations. Most children don’t have the fortune of seeing the same pediatrician from birth to age 18 so carrying a portable copy of their immunizations may reduce error and confusion. Keep the book, an easy (maybe?) way to advocate for great and perfect health care for your child.
Keep The Book: Staying On Top Of Immunizations
- Let’s be honest, kids get lots of shots now. This is an incredible fortune in the world of trying to avoid threatening, preventable disease. Help ensure your kids get the right doses at the right time. To my count, including yearly flu shots, children can have up to 50 inoculations before they head off to college. Even if you don’t want your child to get all the shots when recommended…Keep the book!
- Always keep an immunization card (book) for your child in your home; don’t rely on the pediatrician’s office. Cards are often handed out in the birthing hospital. If you’ve lost the card, ask your pediatrician for a new one at the next visit. Have the medical assistant fill it out with the data they have and double check your own copies.
- Keep the book where you keep those important papers like the lien on your car, the mortgage, that favorite rookie baseball card. When your now toddler applies to med school, it will be easy to prove they’ve had their Hepatitis B series!
- In the age of digital medical records, the paper card may still be the best way to track your child’s immunizations, particularly if your child has been to more than one pediatric clinic. Don’t rely on technology to do this for you. Errors can occur. And they do! This is a cheap way to protect your child. Keep the book.
- If you forget the card at a visit, bring it in the next time your child sees the doctor. It’s not only at well child check-ups that we confirm the record, add to your book, or update immunizations.
- If there is no record of a shot, pediatricians will always err on the side of caution and re-do a dose of the immunization. This is safe and can assure your child is protected against illness. By keeping the book, you may avoid excess or a repeat dose of an immunization by confirming it’s already been done.
Keep the book, then. Yes, please. I’m tucking ours in between the med school loans and the mortgage. Prized possessions indeed.
Dr. Swanson, I can relate to your 5-drawer, 1/2 hour search. Any tips for those of us who didn’t keep the book…where can we obtain another copy? I’ve had to request a photocopies of our son’s records from my pediatrician’s office on more than one occasion for school, camps, etc. (surely a time waster for all involved that could be avoided if I’d have “kept the book”). I’m sold on your advice to keep the book and will gladly transcribe the photocopied record into the keepsake book that the “official washington state immunization record” will surely become, once it’s fulfilled it’s due purpose 🙂
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Val, We have extra books in my clinic office in Mill Creek so maybe your doc’s office does too. Ask your pediatrician next time you’re in. Also, options of online, registries that you can put records into exist. In the state of WA, check out our Child profile https://www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/childprofile/. This is a registry that clinics are supposed to download shot information into, but not all do–your child may already be loaded in there–just be careful as often it’s incomplete. Also, you can sign up for Health Vault for free https://www.healthvault.com/. This is a comprehensive site to organize all information about health history. It’s a place where you could keep and log your child’s health information (including immunizations, allergies, surgeries, etc) and never have to do the 5 drawer, 1/2 hour search! You just have to keep the URL and password handy. Only issue that I found when I trialed it this week is it’s confusing when entering shots and difficult to know which shot your child had, exactly, if you’re not familiar with the doses and names of particular shots Also, I couldn’t even find a place for my H1N1 shot I had in October….but take a look–this may be the answer!~
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Also, here is a tool from Baby Center where you can build a shot record for your child. Easier to use than Health Vault! https://www.babycenter.com/immunization-scheduler?scid=adhoc_20100226_healthalert:6&pe=fqmqF9
Sounds like the State of Washington is a bit addled, too. You note that they recorded the shot as occurring on 10/24/10. That date will occur in a bit less than eight months into the future. 😉
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
You’re right, Theresa. My error. 10/24/09 is the date. Whew, we’re getting to the bottom of this. I suppose this is proof that I am the sole author of this blog no one edits my work!
Denise Farrand says
Dr. Swanson – Thanks for the mention of CHILD Profile in your post, and here is some quick info about the system: – Over 90% of health care providers in WA now participate in CHILD Profile and regularly submit immunization data, so records there are increasingly complete and accurate. – It is important that parents keep an updated record of their child’s immunizations, and in addition to contacting their provider’s office for info on any dates/shots missing from the paper record, parents can contact CHILD Profile directly to request a copy of their child’s immunization record, by calling 1-800-325-5599. – CHILD Profile health and safety mailings are automatically sent to families of children born in Washington, up to age 6. The first mailing contains the Immunization Card and Health Record booklet (as shown in your photo). Most providers’ offices do have extras of the Immunization Card, and additional copies can be requested from CHILD Profile by calling 1-800-322-2588. Thanks! Denise Farrand, CHILD Profile Health Promotion Operations Manager
The books for all my kids (and my husband) are in my wallet. When my first kid was born (1994), I was told to always take the immunization record to doctor’s appointments. Keeping it in my wallet seemed like the easiest way to ensure that would happen.
My two oldest children are currently traveling out of the country, and when they went to get their final travel vaccine, the nurse printed their CHILD Profile and said that the state seal on it meant they could carry the printout as official documentation, and leave their books safely at home. Great system.
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