Coming of Age ... Immunizations

Under a change to Texas law, adults can now track their immunizations through a state registry database that was formerly only available for children.  But once adolescents turn 18 their records are purged unless they request otherwise.  Texas doctors are worried about the loss of those records.

Texas has a database called ImmTrac. It's an opt-in program, meaning a child's record of immunizations is only added to the database if the parent authorizes it.

For the first time, the system will track adult immunizations as well. But again, only if you opt in.

And that means children who have their records saved in the system have to choose to re-save their records when they become adults, by signing a consent form.  Otherwise the state purges the information one year after they turn 18.

Dr. Jason Terk is a pediatrician and advisor for the Texas Medical Association's Be Wise, Immunize program.

"This is a fairly new thing that we have with ImmTrac, that adults can keep their records on ImmTrac. And I don't believe that many providers know that this is something they need to tell their patients about. I certainly tell my adolescent patients that are getting close to adulthood and aging out of my practice that this is something they need to do to retain the records in the registry."

But why is it important to save those childhood records into adulthood?

"If you are in the process of completing the Human Papillomavirus or Gardasil vaccination series, it's a three-part series, you may not remember how many you've had or whether or not you need the next one. That information can be retained in the registry for you. Even later on when you become an adult and you start having children, you want to know whether or not you've had the TDAP vaccination, which is something that you need to get to protect your children from getting pertussis."

Terk says freshmen college students are also required to have documentation of the meningitis vaccine. He says it's also helpful to keep track of international travel vaccinations like Hepatitus A&B, Typhoid and Yellow fever.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...