What to do with your COVID-19 vaccination card

Now that you’ve made the life-changing decision to get vaccinated against COVID-19, you have another choice to make. This one’s not quite as monumental.

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

Sandy Salverson, PharmD, vice president of Pharmacy Operations at OSF HealthCare, offers this guidance.

  1. Celebrate it! There’s hope and safety in that little card.
  2. Keep it in a safe place – but not necessarily on your person.
  3. Laminate it if you want to. Or don’t. There’s no right answer there.
  4. If you happen to lose it, don’t panic.

The reality is, there is no official instruction on what to do with your card, or how it might be used in the future.

“It’s an incomplete conversation,” Sandy said. “There’s a lot we don’t know.”

After your vaccination

“As soon as you receive your card, check to make sure your personal information is correct. If the provider hasn’t added your personal information, you should. Here’s where you can take a picture of your card. That way, if you do lose it, you know exactly what information was on it and where to go to get it replaced,” Sandy said.

Once you’re vaccinated, you may be tempted to share a picture of you with that card on social media. After all, you may be influencing someone else to get vaccinated. Just make sure you cover up the personal information on your card before you take the picture – and use the hashtag #OurBestShot.

What then? Put it in a lockbox? Hang it on your fridge? Or keep it with you at all times?

“Having it in your personal medical information that you keep at home is appropriate,” Sandy said. “But do you need to keep it in your wallet? Right now, I don’t think you’re going to need to flash this card on a regular basis.”

But Sandy cautions that if you are traveling to a conference or large event, you might want to pack your card. The rules about when proof of vaccination will come into play aren’t written yet.

“Private business owners are going to be able to have their own policies. They can be stricter than public policy. To prevent heartache and headache, it might be worthwhile to have that card in your wallet when you travel,” she said. “But I don’t foresee having to flash your COVID-19 card to get into the grocery store.”

To laminate or not

“I get it; you want to keep it nice,” Sandy said. “Especially if people are carrying it in their wallet. Mine’s ripped already, I know.”

However, now that boosters have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you might want to hold off laminating that card.

You need to present your card if you’re receiving an additional dose due to being immunocompromised or you’re receiving a booster, which were approved for all three vaccines in use in the U.S. – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

But if you’ve laminated your card since receiving your primary vaccine series, don’t worry.

Since the cards are replaceable, and not the sole source of vaccine information, a new vaccination record card can always be started, Sandy said.

New vaccines, old school concept

“Vaccination cards are not a new concept. An individual who receives vaccinations at a public health department is typically given a card to track the receipt,” Sandy said. “Even individuals who get most preventive health needs met at their primary care physician’s office might go to a travel clinic for shots before visiting certain countries.”

“Historically, you’d take that card and bring it to your physician’s office,” Sandy said. “We didn’t have all these fancy electronic methods to share records. You’d old-school it and bring this little card to let them know what vaccinations you’ve received.”

But in the end, it’s not the old school card that’s important. The protection against serious illness and death caused by COVID-19 is the real prize.

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