What to Do With the Vaccine Card

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay reporter

TUESDAY, May 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) – More than 147 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and they all have the same question:

What should I do with this vaccination card they just gave me?

Whatever you do, don’t throw it away, experts say.

An electronic record of your vaccination should be filed with your state by whoever gave you the vaccine, but keeping your own paper record will likely be helpful.

“Since there is so much discussion about the different entities requiring proof of vaccination, who knows how this will play out?” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “At the moment, over 100 colleges and universities have informed their students that when they return in the fall, they will be required to show proof of having been vaccinated.”

“There may be other circumstances where it will happen in the not too distant future, so keep it in a safe place. You might need it in the near future to do this or that,” Schaffner continued.

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Keep your completed COVID vaccine card with your other important documents, experts recommend.

For example, Dr. Amesh Adalja – a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore – keeps it in his passport, next to a very similar yellow fever vaccine card.

Experts differ as to whether or not you should laminate the card.

“Some people have it laminated, but there is a caveat: a colleague of mine tried to laminate it themselves and messed it up,” Schaffner said. “Then they had to go out and get a new card, which was a problem.”

Office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot offer laminating cards for free, but you should only have to pay a few dollars to get a laminated card in your neighborhood copy center, Schaffner said.

Schaffner and Adalja have not had their cards laminated as more may need to be added to their personal COVID vaccine record.

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“I put it in a little plastic sleeve, actually in a bag, and I put it among my other security papers. If I need it, then it will be available,” Schaffner said. “On mine, there’s room in the back for a booster if I ever need it. That’s important, and that’s one of the reasons I didn’t laminate it. “

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Others say that if you have your card laminated after being fully vaccinated, that shouldn’t be a problem, as more sophisticated archiving systems – a smartphone app, for example – are currently in development.

“I would laminate it because by the time a booster comes along, the technology will have moved on,” said Maureen Miller, professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. CBS News.

All experts agree that taking a photo of your completed card and keeping it on your phone is a good idea, so you have a copy readily available on hand. If you don’t have a smartphone, keep a photocopy of the original card in your purse or wallet.

You should also be sure to inform your primary care physician that you have received the vaccine, as well as the VA or Medicare, to keep your personal medical records up to date. They might ask you for a copy of your vaccine card, so be prepared to fax or email a copy.

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But experts disagree on whether or not you should share this image on social media like Facebook or Twitter, to share your good news and encourage others to take the plunge.

“I shared it on social media to show people I was vaccinated and to encourage them to do the same,” Adalja said.

However, you may want to take steps to hide any information that could be used by identity thieves.

“I wouldn’t post it on social media with my birthday showing,” said epidemiologist Danielle Ompad, a professor at the NYU School of Global Public Health. CBS News. “It’s a unique identifier that could allow someone to potentially steal your identity, so I’d be careful with that first.”

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Don’t worry if you lose your card or have already thrown it away after completing your series of shots. As mentioned earlier, an electronic record of your vaccination is sent to your state health department; ask them for a replacement.

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More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on state immunization information systems.

SOURCES: William Schaffner, MD, professor, preventive medicine and division of infectious diseases, Vanderbilt Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee; Amesh Adalja, MD, senior researcher, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore; CBS News

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