What you need to know about Germany’s “Impfpass” vaccination record
Vaccinations aren’t compulsory in Germany, but they are strongly advised. In this article, Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse explains what the German vaccination record (Impfpass) is used for, how you receive a yellow booklet or replace a lost one, and how to understand the information contained in it.
When you receive your first vaccination in Germany, you will get a yellow booklet known as a “vaccination record” (commonly referred to as an Impfpass, an Impfausweis, or an Impfbuch), where all of your inoculations are recorded.
Your vaccination record usually stays with you throughout your entire lifetime. It records all your vaccinations and tells you when it is time for a booster. We have put together some information on how to read the yellow booklet correctly, and what to do if you lose your vaccination record, or if it has not been kept up-to-date.
Where do I get my German vaccination record from?
The vaccination record is usually issued by a doctor as soon as a baby receives their first vaccinations, shortly after birth.
Even if you were not born in Germany, most people have a yellow-coloured vaccination record, which is issued according to the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO). If you do not have a vaccination record from your home country, you will receive a yellow booklet when you are vaccinated for the first time in Germany.
The WHO vaccination record is an international document that contains vaccination records in German, English and French. Some people in Germany still have the older, white version, which is set out in a similar way.
It is important to take your vaccination record with you on trips abroad, especially if you travel to countries with vaccination requirements.
Incomplete, misplaced or lost vaccination records
It is important to keep your vaccination record up-to-date so that your doctor can check your immunisation history and recommend booster shots as needed. Here’s what you should do if your vaccination records are incomplete or missing:
If you temporarily misplace your Impfpass
If you are heading for a vaccination appointment and you can’t find your vaccination record, don’t worry. Your doctor will be able to provide you with a replacement certificate, which can be added to your vaccination record later on. If you urgently need official proof of your COVID-19 vaccination or any other vaccination, you can also download the required form here.
If you lose your vaccination record
If you have lost your vaccination certificate, you should start by contacting your GP or travel health clinic. All of your vaccinations should be recorded in your patient files and your doctor will be able to add them to your vaccination record.
If your old booklet has been lost, these previous vaccinations will be added to a new vaccination record booklet, which will be issued by your doctor. It is not possible to “order” or “apply” for a vaccination record from anywhere else.
If some of your vaccinations haven’t been recorded
If your previous vaccinations are recorded in your patient files, your doctor can update your vaccination record.
If you have no record of previous vaccinations, these will count as “not vaccinated” in your medical history, and in this case, your doctor will recommend that you catch up on the missing shots. Your doctor will be able to advise you as to which vaccinations or booster shots you need.
In theory, your doctor may also carry out an antibody test. A type of blood test known as a “titer test” can detect antibodies in your system that protect against certain diseases. This allows the doctor to find out whether you have already received certain vaccinations. However, these tests are not recommended in general, since they are not fully conclusive and must be paid for privately in most cases. Doctors can only recommend these titer tests under certain conditions, for instance for people with immunodeficiency.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to make a copy of your vaccination record each time you receive a new jab. This will ensure you have all the relevant information, even if you lose your vaccination record. A doctor will then be able to add the vaccinations to a new vaccination record booklet.
Page by page: understanding your vaccination record
Vaccination records in Germany all look the same. Inside the booklet, you will see three columns: date, manufacturer and batch of vaccine, and signature and stamp of physician.
In the first column, your doctor will note the date on which the vaccination was given. This makes it easy to see precisely when you will need a booster shot.
Next to that, you can see the name of the vaccine and the batch designation - usually on a small sticker. If you experience any side effects after the vaccination, the batch designation tells you precisely which vaccine was used. The doctor also marks the relevant disease or pathogen that has been vaccinated against.
Finally, the name of the doctor is entered, along with a signature and a stamp.
Frequently used abbreviations for vaccinations
Vaccination records usually contain a lot of abbreviations. Here are some of the most common ones:
|aP||Pertussis (whooping cough)|
|D or d||Diptheria|
|DT or Td||Diptheria / tetanus combined vaccine|
|DTaP or Tdap||Diphtheria / tetanus / pertussis combined vaccine|
|Hib||Haemophilus influenzae, type B|
|IfSG||Infection protection act (in Germany)|
|IPV||Inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (vaccine against polio)|
|MMR||Measles / mumps / rubella combined vaccine|
|MMR-V||Measles / mumps / rubella / varicella (chicken pox) combined vaccine|
What other information is contained in your vaccine record?
The pages in your vaccine record contain information about different kinds of vaccines:
After the cover page is a space for any vaccinations you’ve had against yellow fever to be recorded. Some countries require proof of this vaccination before allowing travellers to enter. Only state-recognised yellow fever vaccination centres are authorised to administer and certify these vaccinations.
Standard vaccinations are recorded on the following pages – from infancy to adulthood. Standard vaccinations in Germany include tetanus and diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), and mumps, measles and rubella (MMR).
Most vaccination records have an additional section for the flu (influenza) vaccination. Here the flu vaccination can be recorded annually.
After that, special vaccinations can be recorded, which are required for professional reasons, travelling, or for certain groups of people. These may include vaccinations such as rabies, hepatitis A, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) or HPV (cervical cancer) vaccinations.
Results of tuberculin tests
Since 1998, STIKO, the vaccination committee in Germany, no longer recommends the vaccination against tuberculosis (BCG vaccine). However, it may sometimes be relevant to test whether you have already had TB or other mycobacterial infections, or if you have already been vaccinated. This can be done with a skin test. The test results, known as a tuberculin test, are recorded in the vaccination record.
To find out whether you have adequate protection from certain illnesses, such as rubella, through vaccination or previous infection, a doctor can carry out blood tests in certain cases. This is, for example, relevant for women who want to have children. These results are also recorded in the vaccination record – usually on one of the pages towards the back.
If, in an emergency, your vaccination protection is not sufficient, a doctor can protect you through passive immunisation, for example against tetanus. The administration of antibodies is recorded in the relevant section of the vaccination record.
Finally, important medical data for emergency situations can be entered in the vaccination record, such as your blood group, allergies and chronic illnesses.
Which vaccines are recommended in Germany and when?
On the last page of the vaccination record, you will find a vaccination calendar, which shows which standard vaccinations are recommended and when. The latest recommendations from the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) are available on the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) website.
Apart from that, there are other recommended vaccinations for certain groups of people. These are known as non-routine vaccinations and apply to people with underlying health conditions and immunodeficiencies, or to people who are exposed to particular risks because of their professional occupation. Further vaccinations may also be recommended for trips abroad.
Documentation for COVID-19 vaccinations
Just like all other vaccinations, the COVID-19 vaccination also needs to be recorded. Ideally, the proof of vaccination will be marked in your “little yellow booklet”. Therefore, you should take your vaccination record with you to your vaccination appointment.
From this summer, the federal government will make available a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport, which you will be able to load up on your smartphone, as an optional addition to the yellow vaccination record. This passport should be accepted throughout the EU as proof of vaccination.
Digital vaccination records & Electronic patient files
In the future, Germany plans to phase out the yellow booklet in favour of a digital vaccination record, which should help patients to access their immunity date much more quickly. The digital vaccination record or “vaccination passport” will be included in electronic patient files from 2022 onwards.
As of January 1, 2021, you can already access your patient files from your smartphone. From 2022, the addition of the digital vaccination record will mean that you will not have to search for your “yellow booklet” every time you attend a vaccination appointment.
The digital vaccination record includes other helpful functions. Automatic reminders for things like booster shots will make sure you do not miss any important vaccinations.
Until then, however, we recommend that you keep your current vaccination record in a safe place and regularly ask your doctor to check whether any boosters are required. That way you can always be sure to have optimal protection.
Do you have more questions about vaccinations in Germany? Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse is one of the largest statutory health insurance funds in Germany and provides expert advice, award-winning customer service and excellent coverage to more than one million insurants across the country. Contact them for more information.