Lost vaccination certificate: what to do?

The next vaccination is due, but you cannot find the yellow booklet. How best to proceed now

The vaccination certificate is an important international document. It shows which vaccinations you have already received or still need. Adults, for example, should refresh their vaccinations against tetanus and diphtheria every ten years, according to the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. From the sixtieth birthday, the experts also recommend the pneumococcal vaccination and a vaccination against influenza every year. But special immunizations are also entered in the vaccination pass - for example travel vaccinations.

If you've lost your vaccination record, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Usually, most vaccinations are given by the family doctor after childhood. They should keep a record of all relevant vaccinations that they have given their patients. He can then enter these previous vaccinations on a replacement document.

If a patient comes to the general practitioner's office for the first time, the doctor asks about the medical history and, in this context, usually also about the status of the vaccinations. He may use a special vaccination program in the practice software that also reminds you of the necessary vaccinations.

Travel vaccinations are often done by a specialized travel medic. These vaccinations are also documented in the ID card and can be added by this doctor. If you have received a yellow fever vaccination and can no longer find your ID, you can have this confirmed again with a vaccination seal from the relevant travel doctor.

What to do if you cannot trace vaccinations in this way?

If previous vaccinations cannot be found out, necessary but not documented vaccinations must be made up and supplemented. According to Dr. Britta Reckendrees, vaccination expert at the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), applies: "What is not documented should be interpreted as not being carried out." In such cases, the STIKO advises you to catch up with the recommended vaccinations in order to protect the patient as best as possible.

As an alternative, blood tests, so-called antibody determinations, should only be carried out in people with a contraindication to vaccinations, for example those with a weakened immune system. "The results can then be entered informally by the doctor in the new vaccination card," explains Dr. Nikolaus Frühwein, specialist in general medicine and vaccination expert from Munich.

Does it hurt to have a double vaccination?

"You can repeat vaccinations almost as often as you like without posing any great risk," says Dr. Nikolaus Frühwein. Vaccinations that require multiple injections should be completed. Otherwise the protection may not be completely built up or not last long enough. If you are not sure about the vaccination status, immunization is usually started from the beginning.

Nevertheless: Ideally, vaccinations should of course be carried out as recommended - and documented in a way that is easy to find. Tip: Put the vaccination certificate with other important documents such as your birth certificate and tax number.

Today we no longer document a lot in analogue fashion. There are also a number of digital applications in the health sector. The electronic patient file planned by the Federal Ministry of Health is also expected to offer the option of storing the vaccination card electronically from 2022 (https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/pdsg.html). However, since it is sensitive health data, it must be secured as well as possible against unauthorized access. Data protection and sovereignty over your own data are crucial aspects. In addition, recognition by foreign authorities must be clarified if, for example, mandatory vaccinations such as a yellow fever vaccination are required upon entry.

vaccination infection