Jacki Hollywood Brown has been a military spouse for almost 25 years. In that time, she has lived in four Canadian provinces and two different countries. She maintains a regular blog at Canadian Army Wife.
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published at Canadian Army Wife.
I’m pretty diligent about keeping our family’s vaccination records, but I bet there are not a lot of people that are so diligent.
In most provinces, you get a small folded bit of paper at birth (actual size 10 x 15 cm) on which to record all the vaccinations for your entire life. You must keep this little paper safe at all times and take it with you to every immunization appointment.
What if the vaccination card is:
- stored in a pocket and goes through the wash and gets destroyed?
- kept in your wallet and your wallet is stolen?
- is just plain old lost?
Ah, you’re thinking you just go to your family doctor and he or she will have all of the records.
Not so fast!
If you’re a military family, you may have just moved, and you don’t have a family doctor. You can’t get your medical records shipped from your old doctor because he or she will only ship them to a new doctor. There is also the possibility that you got your vaccinations from a public health nurse or school nurse who doesn’t necessarily pass on the information to your family doctor. You might try to get the information from the public health unit in your former province, but if you don’t have your health card number from way back then, your records probably won’t be found.
To make matters worse, vaccinations schedules are different in almost every province.
The main immunizations (diphtheria, pertussis, polio, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella) are pretty much consistent. However, the schedule of other vaccinations such as chicken pox, HPV, and hepatitis A and B are different or optional.
Canada has an immunization schedule tool, but it is useless if you were born before 2009 or if you’ve lived in 4 different provinces and, heaven forbid, you move from one province to another when you’re in the middle of receiving a series of vaccines.
What happens if parents don’t bother to keep records and have moved frequently?
Canada, you NEED a national health records system.
What are your suggestions to make immunization and health care better for Canadian military families?