All about your coronavirus vaccine card

What are you supposed to do with that white vaccination card you get after receiving a coronavirus vaccine? Should you laminate it? Will you need it again? What should you do if you lose it? And what’s all this talk about a vaccine passport?

Allyson Chiu of The Washington Post answers all of these questions and more, after interviewing some experts.

What’s the card for? These cards are your personal record of which vaccine you have had, much like your childhood immunization record, said Kelly Moore, deputy director of the Immunization Action Coalition. It includes information about which vaccine you received, its lot number, the date and where you received it. And if you need a second dose, it allows providers to make sure you are getting the correct one at the right time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends contacting your vaccination site or state health department to get a card if you did not receive one.

And while the card is quick proof of coronavirus vaccination, experts told Chiu that it is not a legal document.

What should you do with it? It is recommended that you take a picture of the card as a backup copy and keep the original stored in a safe place that is easily accessible. Other experts recommend making hard copies of the card and keeping them in a secure location. Another suggested making sure your primary care provider inputs your vaccination information into your records at your next appointment. .

Caution was also advised regarding posting photos of your card on social media without obscuring your personal information.  “Your name is on there, your date of birth, the lot number of the vaccine that you receive,” Michael Knight, assistant professor of medicine and the patient safety officer at George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates told Chiu. “You don’t want an opportunity for individuals to have personal information that they can use for identity theft or other untoward activities.”

Should you laminate the card? The concern here is that laminating it will complicate things if booster shots are needed in the future. To avoid this, one expert suggested laminating a copy of the card. StaplesOffice Depot and Office Max are offering free lamination services for the cards or copies for a limited time, Chiu reports.

Will you need the card to get a second shot? It is recommended that you bring your card to your second appointment so that it can be updated, but experts told Chiu that it is not necessary since vaccination sites and state health departments are keeping electronic records of coronavirus vaccinations that have been given. If you can’t find your card, make sure to take a form of identification.

What should you do if you lose your card? First, go back to your vaccination site and see if they will give you a new one; make sure to bring an ID and the date of your last vaccine if you have it. If you have already gotten your second vaccine, go to that site.

If you are unable to get a replacement card, you can get a backup copy through your state health department, Kevin Colgan, vice president and chief pharmacy officer at University of Chicago Medicine, told Chiu. In Kentucky, call 502-564-0038 or email or go to the Kentucky Immunization Registry for more information.

Where will you need to show your card? This question remains up in the air, Chiu reports. Neysa Ernst, nurse manager of the Biocontainment Unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine recommended that you bring your vaccination record, or a copy of it, when you travel since travel requirements are rapidly changing and it’s best to be prepared.

What’s the difference between a vaccination record card and a vaccine passport?  “Your card is just a piece of paper with your information,” Knight told Chiu. Oftentimes a vaccine passport is “a document that’s more durable, that’s a little bit more secure” or it will be electronic.
He added, “It’s unlikely that the actual paper that you have will be the passport if that is required in the future.”

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