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.