Whether you’re approaching a second dose appointment, a first shot or if you've received both shots of a series COVID-19 vaccine (or just a single Johnson & Johnson vaccine!), you’ll be given a vaccination card. Because 2 of the 3 currently approved COVID-19 vaccines are administered in a series of 2 shots, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention originally hoped these cards would remind individuals to come back in time for their second appointment.
But COVID-19 vaccine cards may serve an even more crucial purpose than just an appointment reminder; because many individuals are flocking to public state and city-sponsored clinics (as opposed to their primary healthcare provider), cards serve as a record you’ll need to share in the future. Plus, there’s been a lot of back and forth among government officials and travel experts on whether or not COVID-19 vaccine cards will be used as a qualifier for “vaccine passports” for travel and tourism across the country.
So what happens if you lose your COVID-19 vaccine card, then? You may worry that there’s no way to prove to others—whether it be your primary doctor, a team at work, a nurse at school or a local travel authority—that you’ve been vaccinated this year. Don’t fret! Even if you’ve visited a clinic outside of your doctor’s office, you can retrieve another vaccine card to keep safely with you as the year progresses.
You may be better off making a duplicate of your CDC-issued vaccine card in the first place, in addition to other steps to make sure it’s readily available in the future. Follow along as we share the best ways to keep your vaccine card safe, and what to do if you lose it at any point.
What to do if you’ve lost your vaccination card:
The best way to replace a lost vaccine card is to retrace your steps and return to the place where your first vaccine was administered. If you received a vaccine from your primary care provider, they’ve likely already updated your immunization records; you’ll be able to call that office and ask for another one to be prepared for you. If you’ve received a vaccine from another public clinic—whether it be a state-sponsored location or a private pharmacy like those on this list—you’ll need to contact administrators at the location to ask for a duplicate card.
When you made an appointment at a public clinic, it’s likely that a patient number or reservation locator was generated for you; you’ll need to share this ID with clinicians, and they’ll be able to locate your records in the system to make a new card. Contacting a clinician may be easier said than done since state-sponsored sites are often busy vaccinating hundreds to thousands of people in one day. Your best bet is likely to return to your clinic in person to ask for a duplicate card, armed with the reservation confirmation email at the ready.
If the clinic is closed or has moved, try contacting your state health department directly, as each state maintains an immunization information system (IIS for short) that should have basic vaccination information on file. You can find a state-by-state IIS contact guide here. Alternatively, if you signed up to participate in the CDC’s v-safe application program, you should be able to view the vaccine information you input at the start.
What to do with your vaccine card:
Now that you’ve secured your card, there are a few things you can do to keep this record valid for future use. Mostly, you want to make sure that you keep your vaccine card safe so that it may be used in the future, especially as it relates to your medical record upkeep. Here’s what you should do with your COVID-19 vaccine card to avoid losing it or damaging it:
Take a picture of it. You shouldn’t be carrying your vaccine card around with you in public at this point; it should stay in a secure space, in the same spot as your birth certificate or a passport, for example. Having a picture of your vaccine card (front and back) is a much easier way to have proof of your vaccine and also the product lot of your vaccine. It’s also a failsafe in case you lose the card itself!
Don’t share the photo on social media. Long story short: Scammers can use the information printed on your vaccine card to their benefit. You’re better off sharing a selfie with your vaccinated arm, or another snapshot from your vaccine moment.
Make a photocopy of your card. You can share this with anyone who is asking for your vaccine info, and it can be a good way to share your vaccination event with a primary health care provider. They’ll be able to add it to your permanent file, and can update their own vaccination records using one of the copies you’ve made when you bring it in during your next check-up.
Cover it. This has to do with being overly careful more than anything, but vaccine cards are usually handwritten or adorned with a printed label. If the handwriting or the label’s ink smudges, that could make your vaccine illegible when you present it to others. Keeping it away from moisture and rubbing off on other surfaces is a good idea.
Done with your doses? Stop by any Staples store nationwide by 7/31 to protect your COVID-19 vaccine record card for FREE. https://t.co/2zcaL72Q5G
— Staples Stores (@StaplesStores) April 5, 2021
Should I get my vaccine card laminated?
It makes sense why some clinicians or healthcare providers are asking patients to laminate their cards now for safekeeping; it’s the easiest way to preserve the card perfectly. But the lamination process may interact poorly with the ink, and there’s another key health reason why you shouldn’t permanently seal your card.
Christopher Thompson, Ph.D., a professor of biology at Loyola University Maryland, explains that the immunity associated with COVID-19 vaccines isn’t fully understood just yet. Recent reports based on preliminary studies suggest that both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine products likely provide up to 6 months of heightened immunity; after that, vaccinated individuals may need to receive additional booster shots for continued immunity against SARS-CoV-2.
Your card may eventually hold more information about booster doses received later this year, which is why you shouldn’t laminate it now. There are an additional 2 lines (3 if you receive a Johnson & Johnson vaccine) that may be used to display information about any additional booster doses you receive over the next year.
Where to get my vaccine card laminated:
It won’t be the end of the world, so to speak, if you end up laminating your COVID-19 vaccine card. You’ll likely get a new one if a third booster shot is necessary. In the meantime, if you do decide to laminate a vaccine card for safekeeping, Staples and Office Depot (as well as Office Max) shoppers can get their cards laminated for free through the summer, per CNN. Here are the coupons you’ll need in store:
Staples: Use coupon code 81450 to receive free lamination on your vaccine card at all U.S. stores.
Office Depot: You’ll need to print/clip this digital coupon to receive free lamination on your COVID-19 vaccine card through July 25.
An added perk for Office Depot shoppers? The coupon also includes a free photocopy of your vaccine card, meaning you can check two things off your list with one trip.
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