- Your COVID-19 vaccine card contains important information and serves as proof of vaccination and a medical record.
- If you lose your vaccine card, you should be able to obtain a replacement through your vaccine provider.
- Experts recommend taking a photo of your COVID-19 vaccine card and storing the original with other important documents.
If you’ve gotten vaccinated against COVID-19, you should also have received a vaccine card created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The card includes the date of your dose, which vaccine you received, where you received your shot, and other important information. If you haven’t yet received a COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll get your card when you do get the jab.
Experts say you should hang onto your card and keep it safe because you will likely need it later. But accidents do happen.
“If for some reason you were to lose that card, you can go back to the location that you got it and they should be able to provide you with updated documentation of it,” Sarah Lynch, PharmD, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Binghamton University, State University of New York, tells Get Meds Info.
Replacing a Lost or Damaged Card
Even with diligent safe-keeping practices, you can misplace or damage a card. If you received your vaccine at a pharmacy or through your healthcare provider, you can reach out to that pharmacy location, clinic, or hospital to receive a card replacement. You can also contact your vaccine provider if for any reason you did not receive a vaccine card.
“Any site that’s giving out these vaccinations has a record,” Lynch says. “Most of it’s being submitted to state and national registries, as well.”
If you received your vaccine through a large pop-up site or mass vaccination event at a stadium, a convention center, or another location that is no longer in operation, you may need to track down a replacement card through the health department in charge of running that site, Lynch adds. You can also contact your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS). According to the CDC, vaccination providers are required to report COVID-19 vaccinations to IIS and related systems.
If you enrolled in V-safe or VaxText, you can also access your COVID-19 vaccine info via those tools. However, these resources cannot serve as your official vaccination records. You will still need to obtain a replacement card.
What This Means For You
Keep your original COVID-19 vaccine card safe with other important documents and avoid laminating it. You may need it in the future if booster shots are necessary or if proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for access to events or for travel. Experts recommend taking a photo of your card as a backup. If you do lose the original or it becomes damaged, you should be able to obtain a replacement from your vaccine provider or health department.
The Importance of the Card
COVID-19 vaccine cards serve several purposes. First, the card tells you and your vaccine provider which COVID-19 vaccine you’ve received. If you’ve received a two-dose vaccine, your provider will match you with a second dose from the same vaccine manufacturer and schedule you to return for your second dose at the appropriate time, Lynch says.
Even once you’re fully vaccinated, the card remains a valuable record and tool. “It may become important if there are booster shots in the future,” Lynch explains. “Certain vaccines may require booster shots. Certain ones might not. We don’t know yet.”
The card also contains important information for each vaccine dose you received, including the dose expiration date and lot number. Both of these items are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug-labeling requirements. The expiration date may be important for timing your potential booster shot appointment in the future. And the lot number is crucial in medication labeling to track the complete manufacturing history of a drug.
For example, when vaccine rollout initially began, and rare cases of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) were reported, the CDC was able to determine that the cases were observed with doses from multiple lot numbers, rather than all coming from the same supply. In other words, the cases were not a result of a manufacturing issue but instead rare instances of allergic reaction at a rate on par with that of other vaccines.
Initially, the vaccine card will also be what serves as your proof of COVID-19 vaccination where needed. “It is suspected that there will be the possibility that places will start requiring kind of a vaccine passport in order to do certain things, perhaps traveling or entering certain events,” Lynch says. However, this may become digitalized down the road.
Lynch points out that we’re used to our healthcare providers keeping track of our vaccination history. “If you work at a healthcare facility or if you attend college, you need to have a record of your vaccinations,” she says. “And so most of us don’t really pay attention to that. We contact the pediatrician, or we contact our doctor. They give us a printed-out list. We give it to our employer, and we don’t have to think about it.”
However, with the pandemic, millions of people are being vaccinated for COVID-19 on a daily basis. And that’s why the vaccine card is such a useful tool and serves as an immediate medical record, as well as a future one.
“Right now, we might know our COVID-19 vaccination dates off the top of our heads because of how serious the pandemic has been and how much anticipation there was for vaccine development and then dose availability as rollout began,” Lynch says. “It seems like we’ll never forget. But it really will become difficult to remember, and the card is helpful in that sense.”
Keeping Your Card Safe
Currently, you do not need to carry your vaccine card with you. Rather than storing it in your handbag or wallet—where it could get lost, stolen, or damaged—Lynch recommends stashing it in a safe place where you keep other medical records or important documents.
“Definitely make sure to take a picture of the card on your phone in case you are traveling or attending an event where they want to see a copy of it,” Makaela Premont, PharmD, a pharmacist based in North Carolina, tells Get Meds Info. “I also recommend emailing it to yourself.” Sending a photo of the card as an email attachment allows you to store the image somewhere other than your phone as a backup.
If you do take a photo of your vaccine card, don’t share it publicly. “Despite the popularity of posting COVID-19 vaccine selfies showing your contribution to keeping yourself and others safe, it is a good idea to refrain from posting an image of your vaccination card on social media,” Amber Dessellier, PhD, MPH, CHES, a faculty member for Walden University’s PhD in Public Health program, tells Get Meds Info. “Your vaccination card does include some identifying information which can potentially be used by identity thieves.”
Although laminating your card might seem like a good step toward protecting it, experts do not recommend this. “Laminating your card would prevent the capability to add more information in the future, such as additional doses or boosters if necessary,” Dessellier says.
However, if you’ve already laminated your card, Lynch says not to worry. A laminated card won’t prevent you from getting your second dose of a two-dose vaccine or from receiving a booster. If you’d like to add some protection to your vaccine card, Premont recommends a plastic badge case, which you can pick up at any office supply store.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.