With COVID-19 vaccine eligibility slowly opening to people of all ages across the country, there's a good chance that you or someone you know has received at least one vaccine shot by now. The proof has been posted all over social media. Photos of CDC-issued vaccination cards — filled out with the date of the shot and type of vaccine you've received — are becoming a familiar sight on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. But once you've been fully vaccinated, what exactly should you do with your vaccination card? More importantly, how can you keep it safe?
In the near future, the COVID-19 vaccine card may be used as proof that it is safe for people to enter public spaces like entertainment venues, sports arenas, and school and office buildings, as well as travel around and outside of the country. While it's always a good idea to have proof of vaccination on you, you don't need to have the original card issued at a vaccination site on your person at all times. According to experts, a photo of both sides of the card on your phone (or a physical copy of that photo) is enough to keep on you in case proof of vaccination is needed.
While it's fine to leave the original card at home, the debate on whether or not it should be laminated persists among medical professionals. Speaking to Healthline, S. Wesley Long, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Houston Methodist Hospital, suggested not laminating the cards since you may need to add information to them in the future. "Some people have suggested laminating the cards, but then they can't be updated with information in the future, such as the receipt of a booster shot," he said.
Other experts say they believe a more sophisticated documentation system will be in place by the time booster shots are available. "I would laminate it because by the time a booster comes along, the technology will have evolved," Maureen Miller, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, told CBS News. For people who do decide to laminate their cards, OfficeMax, Staples, and Office Depot will do so for free until May 1. A protective case for your cards also works just as well.
Regardless of how you decide to protect your vaccine card, storing it among other important documents is your best bet for keeping it safe. It is a sign of how far we've come in fighting the coronavirus, after all. If your card does somehow end up lost, however, don't panic. You can get a replacement by calling up your vaccination site or your state's health department.