After poliovirus was found in wastewater in three New York counties, some people have tried to verify that they’ve gotten all the recommended shots.
Most Americans were vaccinated in early childhood. Kindergarten vaccination rates for polio have hovered around 95% since at least the 2011-12 school year.
But there’s no federal database of vaccination records. So if you’re unsure whether you were fully vaccinated against polio, how you retrieve your records depends on where you got your immunizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests asking parents or caregivers, doctors or public health clinics you visited as a child, or previous employers that required immunizations. Schools may also keep records for a couple of years after students graduate.
You can also request records from the health department of the state where you were vaccinated, but the systems for storing and enabling access to that information vary. Here’s what to do, state by state.
How to find your polio vaccination record
The CDC recommends that everyone get four doses of the polio vaccine at specific intervals from ages 2 months to 6 years. The shots are required for children entering kindergarten in all 50 states and Washington, DC, although states allow medical exemptions and, in some cases, religious or philosophical exemptions.
Around 93% of US kindergartners had received four doses of the polio vaccine by the 2020-21 school year, according to the CDC.
Disease experts anticipate that protection lasts for life.
Around 30 states allow you to request records through online forms or mobile apps or to search for records through online portals. Others require you to submit requests form by fax, email or mail. That means some people can access their records right away, but others have to wait days or weeks.
Here’s how to access your vaccination record, according to each state health department:
- Alabama: Request records through the vaccination provider or the county health department that administered your vaccine doses or ask your current doctor to search Alabama’s immunization registry for you.
- Alaska: Submit a request form by mail or fax along with personal identification, such as a copy of a driver’s license or a US passport. Requests take five to seven business days to process. If you no longer live in the state, contact the health care provider who vaccinated you. Children’s records can’t be released directly to parents and must instead be sent to a school, a licensed day care center or another location.
- Arizona: Submit an online request form, along with personal identification. Requests take five to seven business days to process.
- Arkansas: Submit a request form in person or by mail, fax or email, along with a government-issued ID (although that’s not required for walk-ins).
- California: Fill out an online form and upload a copy of your driver’s license or other photo ID. Requests take at least two weeks to process.
- Colorado: Search an online portal for your records.
- Connecticut: Search an online portal for your records.
- Delaware: Search an online portal for your records.
- Florida: To obtain records for minors, contact their vaccination providers or local county health departments. Adults can do that, as well, or fill out an online form and upload photo ID.
- Georgia: Submit an online request form along with personal identification. Requests are typically processed within 10 business days but can take up to 21.
- Hawaiian: Contact the physician who administered your shots.
- Idaho: Download a mobile app called Docket or submit a request form by email, fax or mail.
- Illinois: Complete a record request and submit it by an online form. Requests take three to four weeks to process.
- Indiana: Log in to the state’s vaccination portal to see records.
- Iowa: Email a request form and a copy of a state-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, to the state’s immunization registry program. Requests take three to five business days to process.
- Kansas: Complete a request form and send it to the state health department by email, fax or standard mail, along with a form of photo identification. The record will be returned to you by email, fax or standard mail, or it will become available on the state’s online patient portal.
- Kentucky: Fax a completed request form to the state’s immunization registry.
- louisiana: View your records on the online platform MyIR or submit an online form to get records sent to you in the mail.
- Maine: Submit an online request form. If you need the record within five days, contact your vaccination provider.
- Maryland: Register for the MyIR platform.
- Massachusetts: Submit an online request form to get a digital copy of your records. Allow up to 24 hours for a response.
- Michigan: Sign up for the Michigan Immunization Portal, upload an image of your driver’s license or US passport, and then download your records.
- Minnesota: Download the Docket app or submit an online form, which takes up to 33 business days to process.
- Mississippi: View records by creating a MyIR account.
- Missouri: The state health department recommends trying a health care provider first. Otherwise, you can email, fax or mail a request form to the state health department, which takes 48 hours to process, or contact your county health department.
- Mountain: Check with your health care provider or county health department first. If they don’t have your records, submit a request form to the state’s immunization program by email, fax or mail. The forms take three business days to process.
- Nebraska: Search an online portal for your records.
- Snowfall: Search an online portal for your records.
- New Hampshire: The state health department recommends calling your health care provider. Or you can download your records electronically through an online portal or mail a request form and a copy of a photo ID to the health department to receive a paper copy.
- New Jersey: Complete a record request and attach it to an online form, along with a form of personal identification. The same documents can be mailed to the New Jersey Immunization Information System.
- New Mexico: Search an online portal for your records.
- New York: People vaccinated outside New York City should ask their health care providers to check the state’s immunization registry. Those vaccinated in New York City can search for their records directly through an online portal.
- North Carolina: Contact your health care provider, search for military vaccination records if applicable or contact a recently attended school.
- North Dakota: Download your records through the MyIR portal or submit a request form, along with a driver’s license or a state-issued picture ID, by email or mail to the state health department’s immunization program. Requests take up to 10 business days to process.
- Ohio: For the fastest results, check with your health care provider or local health department. Otherwise, mail a request form along with a copy of a government-issued ID to the state health department’s immunization program. The department usually responds to a mailed request within a day or two, not including the time it takes to mail the records.
- Oklahoma: Search an online portal for your records.
- Oregon: Contact a parent or guardian, a medical provider or the most recent school you attended. To get records for minors, try their medical providers or schools. If those methods aren’t successful, enroll in the state’s immunization information system, ALERT IIS.
- Pennsylvania: Submit an online form to request records.
- Rhode Island: Contact your medical provider, who should have access to the state’s immunization registry.
- South Carolina: Request access to your records from your vaccination provider or local health department.
- South Dakota: Check with a doctor, a vaccination provider or your community health office. If that doesn’t work, submit an online request.
- Tennessee: Request records from your health care provider first. If that doesn’t work, submit an online form to get your records sent by mail. The state health department warns of delays in receiving the records because of a heavy volume of requests.
- Texas: The fastest way to get immunization records is through a health care provider. You can also submit a request form by fax or standard mail. Requests take two weeks to process at the moment, but they could be delayed further because of the back-to-school rush.
- Utah: Download the Docket app or submit an online form with a copy of a government-issued photo ID.
- Vermont: Email the state health department and include your name, date of birth and personal identification. You can also submit a request via mail, but the process takes longer.
- Virginia: Submit an online request form and a representative from the Virginia Immunization Information System should contact you within three to five business days.
- Washington: Sign up for MyIR or send a request form to the Washington State Immunization Information System by email, fax or mail. Requests typically take three to five business days to process, but they can take up to 15.
- West Virginia: Ask your health care provider or local health department for your records.
- Wisconsin: Search an online portal for your records.
- Wyoming: Send a request form along with a copy of your ID to the state health department’s immunization unit by email, fax or mail.
Even if you submit a request, a state may not have your records if you were vaccinated before its immunization registry was created. Texas’ registry, for instance; was created in 1999; New York’s dates to 2008 and South Carolina’s to 2014.
Several health departments said they haven’t detected any upticks in requests for polio vaccination records since the virus was found in New York. Health departments in Ohio and Los Angeles County said there had been no increases, while Texas’ health department said it is seeing the typical increase that comes with back-to-school season.
If you can’t find your records, it’s safe to repeat vaccinations, according to the CDC. The agency recommends that people talk to their doctors about whether they should get vaccinated against polio again. Doctors may also recommend antibody tests to determine whether you’ve been vaccinated.
People who weren’t vaccinated for polio should get their shots as soon as possible, according to the CDC. Unvaccinated people over age 4 should get three doses instead of four. Three doses are 99% effective against severe polio, which is characterized by paralysis and can be fatal in 2% to 10% of cases.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism