What should you do with your COVID-19 vaccination card?

covidcard_largeEditor’s note: As what we know about COVID-19 evolves, so could the information in this story. Find our most recent COVID-19 blog posts here, and learn the latest in COVID-19 prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the past few months, it’s become a badge of pride — that three-by-four-inch card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that you’ve received your COVID-19 vaccine and are doing your part to protect yourself and those around you.

But once you have that card, what should you do with it? Do you need to carry it? Is it your only proof of vaccination? Here are the answers to some of the most frequent questions about the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.

What should you do with your vaccination card to protect it? Make a copy? Laminate it? Take a picture?

The CDC vaccination card serves two purposes. First, this is a helpful reminder of the need to receive a second dose for patients receiving the mRNA (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna) vaccines. Secondly, it acts as an extra record of your COVID-19 vaccination. Make sure to bring your card to your appointment for the second vaccine dose, if applicable. Once you’re fully vaccinated, you should keep the card in a safe location in case you need to reference it later.

Although the CDC vaccine card is not required currently for travel, the card may be necessary to show proof of vaccination to a future employer if you start a new job. As additional COVID-19 variants develop, the CDC vaccination card may also be useful to confirm which vaccine and lot was received should “booster” doses later be required.  

Any secure, dry storage place where you keep other important documents (e.g., medical records, immunization history, passports) may be used. For extra protection — if you have access to a machine — you can laminate your physical card. Since it can be easy to forget or lose paper documents, I definitely recommend taking a picture of the card to store in a smart phone for reference. Just be careful to avoid sharing to a public internet site or posting on social media, as the card contains important personal identifiers such as your name, date of birth and medical record number (MRN).

Should you carry your vaccine card with you or stash it somewhere safe?

At this time, you do not need to carry your CDC vaccination card with you day-to-day. Other than bringing it to your vaccination appointments, you can keep it in a safe location. If you’re planning to travel internationally, confirm whether the card is needed as proof of vaccination for each step of your itinerary. If you absolutely must bring your card while traveling, make sure to keep it on you or store it in carry-on luggage only.

What happens if you lose your card? Can you request another?

CDC vaccine cards are readily available, but any replacement will be blank by default. If you do lose your card and need a replacement, make sure to contact the clinics or health services that administered the vaccine doses to complete the card. The vaccine information is the most important part!

Is your card your only proof of vaccination?

No — there will be a record of your vaccine saved electronically with the health care organization, clinic, pharmacy or county health department that provided your vaccine. Ohio State patients will be able to see their COVID-19-related activity, including testing and vaccinations, in MyChart. Some states, including Ohio, also maintain a central database of immunizations for residents. These electronic systems and databases don’t all share information with one another, so the CDC vaccine card is important to document each vaccine administration for your own records, especially if you received your doses at different locations or from different health care providers.

Would it be possible for someone to steal a vaccine card and present it as their own?

Your CDC vaccine card contains identifying information. When reporting for a vaccine dose, a photo ID will be required to confirm your identity. However, there are always bad actors looking to cause mischief, so it’s best to make sure your card is safe and secure to prevent theft or loss.

Are cards used for any other vaccines?

At this time, the CDC vaccine record card is only used for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Jeff Pilz is a pharmacy manager at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

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