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What if I decide to travel abroad but I can't find my vaccine records?

If you are an adult who may need some shots to go overseas but can't find your vaccine records there is a good chance that it won't have an impact on you with one big exception--the yellow fever vaccine. Many countries in Africa require proof of yellow fever administration for entry. Proof of yellow fever vaccination must be presented in the form of an internationally recognized yellow vaccine card.

A few questions

If you visit Away Clinic your nurse will ask you a few questions to help determine what shots you may have already had:

  1. Did you get your routine vaccines as a child? You'll know if you didn't because it would have made enrollment in school difficult as a child.

  2. Where else have you traveled?

  3. Did you serve in the military?

  4. Have you recently had a Tdap shot (for tetanus or whooping cough)

The reality is that many travel vaccines require boosters anyway so losing your vaccine record may not be as meaningful as you think. Meningitis, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis all require booster doses after 1-5 years.

But what if you really need your yellow vaccine card but can't find it?

If you are traveling to many countries in Africa, you will need to show proof that you've received a one-time yellow fever shot (the yellow fever vaccine confers lifelong immunity). If you can't find your yellow vaccine card and you know for sure that you've had the yellow fever shot you have two options:

  1. Get the shot again at a yellow fever licensed travel clinic

  2. Reach out to the place where you got the yellow fever shot originally and see if they can write you a new yellow vaccine card


If you can't find your vaccine records, our nurses can help you figure out what shots you've probably had, determine what you still need to get and then help you get on your way to your destination. Misplacing your vaccine record is probably not as bad as you think but it's best to not lose it if you can help it. Put it in a safe place with your passport and other identifying documents. Stay safe and have a good trip!


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