Looking for your COVID vaccine record? Here's where you'll find it and what else you'll see

Your Immunisation History Statement should include details of your COVID-19 vaccine and other routine immunisations. (AP: Alvaro Barrientos/Service Australia)

We're talking about vaccines more than ever in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, debating the benefits of one manufacturer over another and sharing post-jab selfies, but do you know what else you're vaccinated against?

Most of us wouldn't have had a reason to check out your vaccination record.

If you're out of high school and under 70, it's likely your next routine jab under the National Immunisation Schedule is decades away.

But he COVID-19 vaccine certificate provides the perfect opportunity.

If you're considering your immunisation history for the first time, here's what you should know. 

Where do I find my vaccine record?

The quickest way to access your COVID-19 vaccination certificate is through the Medicare app or your MyGov online account.

From there, link your Medicare account, if you haven't already, and you'll be able to click through to your certificate and, above that, see a link to your immunisation history statement.

You can see what you're vaccinated against, but also the things that might be missing.

In the statement, you should be able to see your COVID-19 vaccinations — if you've had them — and other vaccinations included in the National Immunisation Program Schedule. This is the standard set of jabs given to Australians when they reach certain ages.

An example of what your Immunisation History Statement should look like.  (Supplied: Services Australia)

What are the current routine vaccinations?

Currently, the schedule includes a number of vaccinations while you are a baby and toddler, a few in your teenage years and then a big gap until you turn 70 — unless you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, who also receive a follow up pneumococcal jab at 50.

The schedule kicks off with a hepatitis B vaccine given at birth and usually offered at the hospital. From there, there's a long list until you hit four years old. During this period, young children get their first protection against diphtheria, rotavirus, meningococcal, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, whooping cough, tetanus and pneumococcal.

For younger adults, the last vaccinations before COVID are likely to be three doses of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine given through the school immunisation program. 

But if your digital record doesn't show any of these, don't fret — only vaccinations given after January 1, 1996, when the Australian Immunisation Register was launched, are included on the statement.

What else isn't included in the record?

Many Australians would have been vaccinated before travelling to certain locations. 

For example, the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for Australians travelling to parts of India, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South and Central America, while a yellow fever jab is suggested before trips to Africa, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Because the type of vaccines you might need is dependent on where you plan on going, there is no standard immunisation schedule to follow. Instead, travellers are expected to do their own research and book in with a GP at least 12 weeks before their trip.

What will you be able to do if you're double vaccinated in NSW?

Services Australia, which manages the Australian Immunisation Register, says vaccines administered privately — such as the annual flu jab or vaccines for travel — should also be included on your record, but it falls to the vaccination provider to ensure it is updated.

"Registered vaccination providers are required to report vaccinations to the AIR within 24 hours wherever possible, and no later than 10 days," Services Australia General Manager Hank Jongen said.

If you believe your missing something off your record, ask your GP, or whoever gave you the vaccine, and ask them to update the register.

It's also worth noting that the immunisation register currently only records vaccines that have been registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. When it comes to COVID-19, that means Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna.

What happens if you can't find your COVID-19 certificate but you've been vaccinated?

You've got your second jab and looking forward to lesser restrictions when they're allowed. You log in to your MyGov account, link your Medicare, but for some reason, you can't see your vaccine certificate. What do you do?

First of all, you're not alone. Last month, Triple J Hack host Avani Dias found she couldn't see any evidence of her COVID-19 jabs when she logged into the site. Upon further investigation, it seemed many other NSW residents were experiencing the same issue due to a "system error".

A NSW Health spokesperson at the time said there had been delays updating the Australian Immunisation Record. In response, they set up a website for people to manually report their vaccination.

Anyone still experiencing this issue should contact their vaccine provider in the first instance, Mr Jorgen said. If you need urgent proof of your vaccination you can also contact the Australian Immunisation Register.

But what if you don't have a Medicare card or are unable to access the digital site, how can you prove that you've been vaxxed?

For those without a Medicare card, you can see you vaccination history through the Individual Healthcare Identifiers service on myGov. You can also ask your vaccine provider, such as your GP, to print your record for you.

Is it time for a booster?

With everyone talking about vaccines, it's also a good time to consider whether you're due for a vaccine booster shot — and no, not for COVID-19.

Your immunisation history statement will let you know if you're overdue or due for any of the scheduled jabs, but there are also booster shots that you may be eligible for.

The most frequent shot that comes up is the seasonal flu vaccine. Each year a new vaccine becomes available around April, which will protect against the most common strains of the virus.

Everyone over six months old is encouraged to get the vaccine, but particularly people over 65, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50, young children, pregnant women and anyone with underlying conditions.

A single dose of the whooping cough vaccine is recommended for pregnant women, during each pregnancy, as a way of protecting the child until they can get their own vaccine at four months old. Other family members who will spend a lot of time around the newborn should also consider a booster shot if they haven't received a whooping cough vaccine in the last 10 years.

The whooping cough booster also includes protection against diphtheria and tetanus, which are included in the "combination" DTPa (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis) vaccine.

A tetanus booster is recommended for all adults at 50 years old and 65, if it has been longer than 10 years since their last dose. If you travel frequently to countries where healthcare can be difficult to access, a shot is recommended every 10 years. 

And finally, if you compared your immunisation history statement to the National Immunisation Program Schedule and found some missing — assuming you were expected to receive them after 1996 — you can chat to your doctor about a catch-up program.

According to the Australian Vaccination Handbook, a resource for health care practitioners, catch-up vaccination aims "to provide optimal protection against disease as quickly as possible by completing a person's recommended vaccine schedule in the shortest but most effective timeframe".

While most common in children under 10, a catch-up plan can also be devised for teenagers and adults who cannot find evidence of their vaccinations and may be unsure of what they've already had.

According to the handbook, there are no adverse effects for most vaccines — except Q fever— if additional doses are given to people who are already immune. 


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