As states continue to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, Americans are rolling up their sleeves in record numbers. It is estimated that one in 4 Americans is now fully vaccinated, which means millions of people are walking around with coronavirus vaccination records.
And these seemingly humble little pieces of paper – issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – are pretty darn important. So here are some basics about your COVID-19 vaccine card and some tips on what you should (and shouldn’t) do with yours:
Everyone who is vaccinated should receive a vaccination card.
On your first vaccine appointment (or your only appointment, if you get the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine), “you should get an immunization record that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you have. received, the date you received it and where you received it, ”according to the CDC.
The 4×3 inch card should show whether your vaccine was manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson, along with the dose numbers. It also keeps track of when and where you received your doses.
Having some sort of official “what” and “when” record is vital. On the one hand, it helps to clarify when you should get your second injection (if you received a two-dose vaccine). But it could also come in handy months later. Many experts believe that future recalls will be necessary, both because of the rise of new COVID-19 variants and because there are still many questions about the duration of immunity. If this happens, the card will help you know when you were vaccinated for the first time.
If you did not receive a COVID-19 vaccination card during your first appointment, you should contact the vaccination site you visited or your state health department (which follows who gets the vaccine) to find out how you can get one.
Take a photo of your card.
The CDC recommends that once you have received your vaccine card, you should take a photo of it (front and back) as a backup copy.
In fact, remember to take a photo after each dose you receive – and make sure that photo isn’t just on your phone.
“Keep the image on your phone and email yourself a copy to be sure,” Leana Wen, emergency physician and professor of public health at George Washington University, told CNN. She also said that she recommends making a photocopy that you store with other important documents.
But DO NOT post it on social media.
You may be (naturally) excited and want to share the good news of your vaccination with your friends and family online. But don’t do it.
“Your immunization card contains information including your full name, date of birth, where you received your vaccine and the dates you received it. When you post it on Facebook, Instagram, or another social media platform, you may be passing valuable information to someone who could use it for identity theft, ”the Federal Trade Commission warns.
“Just by knowing your date and place of birth, crooks can sometimes guess most of the digits in your social security number,” the organization noted.
Keep your vaccine card in a safe place.
The idea of “vaccine passports” is controversial, raising all kinds of legal and ethical questions about what schools, businesses and government leaders can and cannot demand in terms of immunization. And what form these “passports” might take is not clear either. A verification application? Another form of proof?
However, for now, you don’t really need to regularly flash your vaccination as proof of vaccination. So while you can certainly carry it in your wallet or purse, you don’t really need it.
“At this time, you do not need to carry your CDC vaccination card with you on a daily basis,” according to the instructions on the Wexner Medical Center website at Ohio State University. “Other than taking it to your immunization appointments, you can keep it in a safe place.” Experts recommend a safe, dry place where you store other important documents.
If you lose or damage your card – or forget to bring it to your second date – don’t worry.
If you misplace your immunization card, either before your second appointment or after you’ve been fully immunized, don’t panic. The CDC recommends that you contact your immunization provider directly first and they should be able to help you access your immunization record. (If you’ve signed up for a program like V-Safe, the CDC’s post-vaccination health checker, you can get your records there.)
The vaccine supplier may be able to “recreate the map based on the data” they have, experts said, although the CDC is not officially saying whether they will just hand you another paper map. of substitution.
If for some reason your immunization site isn’t able to help you, the CDC says your next step should be to contact your health department’s immunization information system. “Vaccine suppliers are required to report COVID-19 vaccinations to their IIS and associated systems,” according to the agency.
A note of caution, however. As the Wall Street Journal reports, there is in fact no nationwide central database for vaccinations. “States keep an incomplete patchwork of documents,” the publication warns. So while it’s likely that you can keep track of your immunization status check, you should really do your best to keep your card safe and dry, and bring it with you to all your appointments.
Don’t worry about this expiration date.
The expiration date on your vaccination card does not actually mean how long you have been protected against COVID-19; it’s up to vaccine administrators to know how long they have from the time the dose is bottled and shipped until it needs to go into someone’s arm.
This is because vaccines can only be stored for a certain period of time before they expire, which means that they are less potent. They should also be stored and shipped under specific instructions for the same reason.
Laminate it? It is complicated.
Some public health officials have recommended that you do not laminate your card, warning that this could render some cards printed on thermal printer labels unreadable. Others are anti-rolling in case you need boosters later and the map needs to be refilled more. (Although other experts note that if you end up needing a booster on the road, chances are you can get a different card at this point as well.)
A less permanent alternative is to buy a clear plastic vaccine card holder, although ultimately experts say if you’ve done most of the above – take a photo and send it to you via e -mail and put your card in a safe place – you should really be fine.
Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but directions may change as scientists find out more about the virus. Please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most recent recommendations.