Your most precious travel accessory this summer is going to be a small white piece of paper.
Some destinations, cruise lines and major sports venues are already requiring travelers to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Other businesses, like Krispy Kreme, are offering freebies and other perks to people who can prove they’ve been inoculated.
If you are among the 48 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the only proof that you have received your Covid shots is typically your paper vaccination record card with the CDC logo in the upper corner.
The vaccination card tells you what Covid-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it — but that information is not being stored in any centralized, easily searchable database.
If you lose your card, you should return to the place you received your vaccination and ask for a replacement. “If you do not receive a Covid-19 vaccination card at your appointment, contact the vaccination provider site where you got vaccinated or your state health department to find out how you can get a card,” says the CDC website.
That’s easy enough if you were vaccinated at a pharmacy chain but more difficult if you had to travel cross-state or inter-state to be vaccinated at a drive-through or pop-up event.
All Covid-19 vaccination providers are required to report data within 72 hours in their state’s immunization system, so there should be a back-up record of your vaccination status there. The CDC has a list of the Immunization Information System (IIS) in each state, which is where to start if you need a replacement card and either can’t remember where you were vaccinated or have difficulty contacting the facility.
Digital vaccine passports may become a reality in the future, but for now your paper vaccination record card is an extremely valuable possession. Here are five easy ways to protect it for safekeeping.
Make a photocopy of your vaccination card.
First and foremost, make a duplicate of your card. Keep a hard copy on file in a safe place.
Get your CDC vaccination record card laminated.
Laminating your vaccination card will make it more durable and protect it from wear and tear. Do this after you are fully vaccinated, so you can carry your card in your wallet or purse without damaging it.
You can laminate your card yourself with self-adhesive laminating sheets available at most office supply stores.
But an even easier, cheaper option is to have a professional laminate your vaccination card for you. Staples is providing free lamination of vaccination cards to customers who use the coupon code 81450. The promotion currently has no end date. Office Depot, which also owns Office Max, will laminate vaccination cards for free for all fully-vaccinated people through July 25.
Take a photo of your CDC vaccination record card.
“Keep your vaccination card in case you need it for future use,” says the CDC website. “Consider taking a picture of your vaccination card as a backup copy.”
You should store an image of your Covid-19 vaccination record card in your photo library or a digital wallet on your smartphone, where it can be easily retrieved.
In addition, email yourself a copy of the image and download it to your computer or laptop. That way, you’ll have one copy on your phone and another on a second device. This will come in handy if you plan to book travel or other activities that require attaching documents that prove you have been vaccinated.
Ask for a digital backup of your vaccination card.
If you were vaccinated at a pharmacy chain, ask if you can have a digital copy of your vaccination record.
“Walgreens maintains digital copies of patient vaccination records and can verify vaccination status on behalf of patients in the event that a dose card is lost or damaged,” said Erin Loverher, a Walgreens spokesperson. “We are also exploring a number of ways to enhance the customer vaccine experience, including a digital dose card and tracker.”
In the not-too-distant future, customers who get vaccinated at Walmart will also be able verify their status with a branded smartphone app. “Our goal is to give customers vaccinated at Walmart free and secure digital access to their vaccine record and enable them to share that information with third parties seeking to confirm their vaccination status,” said John Furner, CEO and president, Walmart U.S., in a statement.
Store your vaccination card on an app.
Many digital-identification apps allow you to store digital versions of health records, including a vaccination record card, on your phone, but choosing one with tight privacy controls is paramount. One reputable option is Airside’s Digital Identity & Health Passport App, which stores data only on the user’s encrypted device and allows users to control not only with whom they want to share their information but for how long.
Your state may soon have its own vaccine pass. New York State just launched the Excelsior Pass to fast-track the reopening of sports arenas, music venues, restaurants and other businesses — and the platform could be rolled out to other states.
How you choose to safeguard your vaccination record card is up to you. Just be sure to keep several copies — the paper copy and a digital copy — so you will be sure to have access to it in most situations and from multiple devices.
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