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Did you get the measles vaccine before? Here’s how to check your immunization status

Did you get the measles vaccine before? Here’s how to check your immunization status

There’s a measles outbreak in Florida, and the best way to reduce the spread is by vaccination, public health experts say.

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR, is one of the mandatory vaccines needed to immigrate into the U.S. and to become a resident. It’s also one of the required vaccines kids need to get in order to attend K-12 schools in Florida, though some might be able to avoid getting the shot for medical and religious reasons.

People born before 1957 also lived through several years of measles epidemics, which means there’s a good chance they had measles at some point, public health experts say. If you’ve previously had measles, you should have immunity, too.

What if you’re not sure whether you’ve had the contagious disease before or if you received the MMR vaccine while growing up?

Besides asking your parents if they’ve kept copies of your immunization records, there are several other ways you can check your immunization history in Florida:

How to check your vaccination records in Florida

▪ Talk with your current and former doctors and/or pediatricians. They will likely have information on your immunization history in their records. However, keep in mind physicians are not required to keep your records forever. Under Florida law, physicians must maintain medical records for at least five years from the last patient contact.

Your healthcare provider will also likely have access to Florida SHOTS, a statewide and centralized system that tracks patient vaccination information. The system records immunization information for patients who get vaccinated at county health departments and from private providers who use the system. Pharmacists at retail pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens will likely have access to this system too.

However, keep in mind that Florida is an “opt-out-state,” which means parents can choose to make their child’s records not accessible in the system.

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▪ If you attended a school in Florida, including for college or university, you can contact the school and ask for your immunization records. However, schools are not required to keep this information forever, so depending on how long ago you were a student, your school may or may not have copies of your records.

▪ If you can’t find your records, contact your county’s local health department. Another option if you’re at least 18 is to fill out an online form to request your vaccination records directly from Florida SHOTS. You can only use this form to request your own personal records, not for another family member. You can’t use this form to request the vaccination history of minors either. And remember, just because you fill out the form doesn’t guarantee the state will find your records in the system.

What if none of these options work?

You could talk with your doctor about scheduling a blood test to check for antibodies. But there’s another, cheaper option that may be easier:

Just get the MMR vaccine, according to Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist at Florida International University in Miami-Dade County; Dr. Mark Roberts, a distinguished professor of health policy and management and director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab at University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health; and Dr. George Rust, director of the Center for Medicine and Public Health at Florida State University in Tallahassee who also serves as medical director of Leon County’s health department.

All three public health experts say it’s safe to get the MMR vaccine if you’re not sure whether you’ve previously been vaccinated or have had the disease.

“There’s really no harm to getting vaccinated again with the measles vaccine even if you’ve had it before,” said Trepka.