The simplest way to determine your immunization status is to check your medical records. Contact your previous doctors for information about your past immunizations. Immunization information systems (IIS) — computerized systems that keep confidential immunization records of people in a specific region — also may be helpful. Contact the local or state health department for details.
If you have unknown or uncertain immunization status, you're considered susceptible to an infection and your doctor may recommend vaccination — either immediately or on an age-appropriate schedule. Generally, vaccinating someone who's already immune isn't considered harmful.
Another option is a blood test to check for the presence of antibodies to certain infections, such as measles, rubella, hepatitis or tetanus. Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system in response to natural infections or vaccination. If you have antibodies for certain infections, you're considered immune.
Keep in mind, however, that vaccines offer protection from a variety of serious or potentially fatal diseases. The surest way to immunity is to receive a vaccine.
Jan. 08, 2011
- Pickering LK, et al. Section 1. Active and passive immunization: Active immunization - Unknown or uncertain immunization status. Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book Online. http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1/1.5.12?cookietest=yes. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Pickering LK, et al. Section 1. Active and passive immunization: Active immunization — Immunizations received outside the United States. Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book Online. http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1/1.5.13. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. General recommendations on immunization: Recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices (ACIP). MMWR. 2006;55:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5515.pdf. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Vaccination records: Finding, interpreting and recording. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/immuniz-records.htm. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.