You have received your Covid-19 vaccine dose and the corresponding small white vaccination card.
What are you doing now?
Take a photo of the card for backup purposes. No selfie required.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Map serves as official documentation.
The cards contain important information about a person’s vaccination status, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert and senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
“The cards are a record of the vaccinations you received regarding Covid-19,” he said. “They are a paper trail that you have about your vaccination status.”
According to the CDC, everyone should receive a vaccination card after their first vaccination appointment. The card contains information about when and where a person received the shot, their name and birthday, what type of vaccine they received, and the vaccine lot number.
“Currently, the vaccination card is a way for the person to get a reminder of the date of their second dose and confirmation of their vaccination progress,” said Maggi Barton, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
For anyone who hasn’t received a vaccination card after receiving the shot, the CDC recommends contacting the vaccination provider or state health department to find out how to get a card.
Once individuals have a card, it’s important to keep it safe, said Laura Mark, vice president of pharmacy at Allegheny Health Network.
“Keep this in a safe place,” she said. “We encourage people to take a picture of it so they know how much and when they received it in case they lose it.”
Some people choose to laminate the cards, which Adalja says is fine. Office Depot and Staples laminate the cards free of charge. Other experts say that laminating the cards could make it difficult to document possible future booster recordings.
Amazon sells clear waterproof plastic sleeves that people can use to carry their cards on lanyards or attach them to key fobs.
But there is no need to panic for anyone who loses their vaccination card.
“These data are not gone if your card is gone,” said Adalja.
Vaccination information is stored in a state vaccination registry that has “existed for a long, long time,” Adalja said.
“If a person lost their paper vaccination card, the provider would have the electronic records too,” said Barton. “If a person loses their card and wants it, they can contact their provider who can confirm the vaccination protocol and show them that confirmation.”
Proof of vaccination can be important for international travel or entering venues or sporting events, although it is unclear how this might work.
“The private sector could find ways to use these to increase capacity or reduce mitigation measures as they only have vaccinations,” Adalja said. “This type of card, or an equivalent like an app, is what you use in situations like this.”
But Adalja said it was likely that the weak paper cards distributed at vaccination sites would not be used for these purposes. Instead, an app is a simpler and safer way to prove vaccination status.
“For international travel it should probably be a little more secure, maybe something that is tied to your passport or a more secure app,” Adalja said.
One app, Adalja said, beats the Covid-19 vaccination cards because they could be safer and harder to counterfeit. Counterfeit Covid-19 vaccination cards have surfaced and show why a safer method is preferable.
“Many people who hesitate to vaccinate have no concerns about getting a fraudulent card,” said Adalja.
In some places, apps are used to prove vaccination. New York has introduced the Excelsior Pass, a free and secure method for digitally proving Covid-19 vaccinations or negative test results. Israel has introduced a similar tool called the Green Pass, which also proves the vaccination status of Covid-19.
In Pennsylvania, there are no definitive plans on how Covid-19 vaccination cards could be used.
“Pennsylvania is awaiting future federal guidance on vaccination cards,” Barton said, encouraging anyone who received the vaccine to save the card.
McCandless’ Melinda Wedde received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine in early March. Since then, she has kept her vaccination card in her bedside table drawer so she won’t lose it.
“I think they’re too tall and too thin to be shown as evidence,” she said.
But she plans to keep the card. For Wedde, it’s a piece of history.
“My grandparents, they went through the Depression and World War II and Korea and all that stuff. I actually have my grandmother’s grocery book, some of her postage stamps, and that 40s stuff, ”she said. “So things like that, I just think historical memorabilia like this are important to hold onto even when you don’t need them right now.”
However, one thing the vaccination cards aren’t good for is taking selfies, Mark said. She advised against posting pictures of the cards as they contain personal information that they may not want to be posted online.
“You wouldn’t do that with your driver’s license or your insurance card,” she said.
Wedde said she felt comfortable posting a selfie with her card after hiding her personal information.
Julia Felton is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter.