How To Protect Your Vaccine Card (& Replace It If You Lose It)

You’ll need it to show your status wherever vaccinations are required.

Originally Published: 
A COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Here's...
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You’ve gotten your COVID vaccine and are back to your weekly IRL hangouts with your vaccinated bestie. But you’re getting ready to go out on the town and realize that your fave brunch joint is requiring proof of vaccination, and you realize you have no idea where your proof is. It’ll save a lot of time and panic to know in advance what happens when you lose your COVID vaccine card.

Sure, your vaccination provider will have your appointment information on record — but having your vaccine card on you means you won’t have to go through the hassle of checking in with someone else to prove that yes, you are in fact fully vaccinated (if the host/bouncer/front desk asks). That’s why it’s a good thing to digitize your card and keep your physical card protected — or, figure out how to get a new one if you lose it.

Is My COVID Vaccine Card The Same As A Vaccine Passport?

Even though it doesn’t look like anything special, your COVID vaccine card might be the only proof you’ll have on hand that you’ve gotten your vaccination. As such, it’s the closest thing there is to a national vaccine passport in the U.S.

Some states have rolled out official vaccine passport apps. In New York, Excelsior Pass is available as a digital proof of vaccination. This vaccine passport only works in New York State, for residents who were vaccinated in New York, but allows to New Yorkers to show their phone instead of digging in their wallet when entering NYC indoor restaurants and gyms that will require proof of vaccination as of Aug. 16. (Visitors to NYC can use NYC Covid Safe instead.) California also opened digital access to vaccine records in June so that folks could offer proof of vaccination without having to worry about a flimsy piece of paper. You can search your state + vaccine passport app to find out if there’s one available where you live.

While the U.S. isn’t requiring digital vaccine passports on a national basis— and many states are trying to ban businesses from requiring them — you might want to re-up your commitment to your vaccine card or digital passport if you want to travel abroad. Proving full vaccination via your vaccine passport when entering Canada will help you skip quarantine requirements, and the same holds if you’ve got an EU vaccine passport. If you’re fully vaccinated, you can also prove your status to travel with less hassle to places like Aruba, Croatia, Greece, and Puerto Rico. Check whether the spot you hope to vacation at next will accept your proof of vaccination — or if they also require a negative test or quarantine — before you book your tickets.

How Can I Protect My COVID Vaccine Card?

Protecting the info on your card starts with preventing yourself from misplacing your COVID vaccine card to begin with. At the very least, you’ll want to take a picture of the card or upload it to a vaccine passport app — but if you want even greater peace of mind, there’s more than one way to safeguard your vaccine card.

Take A Photo Of Your COVID Vaccine Card

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking a clear photo of your COVID vaccine card as the fastest and easiest way to safeguard the information on it. It’ll only take a second, and it’ll make sure your info is saved even if you accidentally toss the card with last week’s mail.

Just don’t include your vaccine card photo in your Instagram-ready vaccine selfie. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, people could use the info on it to open bank accounts under your name. People have also been creating and selling counterfeit cards. But as long as you don’t post it, you can take a photo of your vaccine card for yourself, save it to your phone or upload it onto your hard drive, and call it a day.

Protect Your COVID Vaccine Card With A Plastic Sleeve

If you want to make sure you’ve got a hard copy at all times, putting your card in a protective plastic sleeve will keep it safe in your wallet. You might opt for a removable sleeve instead of laminating it — in the event that a booster shot becomes necessary and available, you can get your OG card updated more easily if it’s accessible.

Keep Your COVID Vaccine Card With Your Passport

Assuming that you have a passport and keep it in a consistent, safe place, slip your COVID vaccine card (or a copy of it) in the book and secure it with a paperclip. That way, you’ll always know where it is in your apartment — especially if you’re getting ready to head out on a post-vaccination vacation. If you don’t have a passport, consider keeping your COVID vaccine card with similarly important documents, like copies of your lease or tax info.

How Do I Recover A Lost COVID Vaccine Card?

Your first stop after accidentally putting your vaccine card in with the laundry should be your vaccine provider. According to the CDC, the location where you got vaccinated should be able to help you replace your card.

If you can’t get in touch with your vaccination provider, the CDC recommends reaching out to your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS). Although the CDC itself isn’t collecting information on who’s getting vaccinated, vaccine providers are required to share that info with their state’s IIS — so they’re a good backup to call when you spill coffee all over your card. Your local pharmacy might be able to give you a new card on the spot if you show ID, but other agencies might send them through the mail — give it a week or so to get to you before planning your next big outing.

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