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Tips for safeguarding the paper record of your coronavirus vaccination

Congratulations, you’ve been inoculated against the coronavirus — and you have an official COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to prove it.

You should keep the card, which bears your name, date of birth, vaccine type and vaccination date, in a safe place. You may need it in the future. You should also take a photo of the card as a backup, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do with your vaccine card: Laminate it.

Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, counsels against laminating your vaccination record. That’s chiefly because that card has blank spaces to record future shots, whether the second dose of a two-dose regimen or a booster shot should one become necessary. Sealing the card in plastic would prevent the vaccine provider from adding such information to the original card.

Protect your vaccine record

As for his vaccine card, Benjamin followed CDC advice and recorded a digital picture on his mobile phone. He placed the paper card in a drawer where he keeps his passport and the yellow international vaccine card he uses, as needed, for foreign travel.

But what if you want to protect your card from coffee stains or smudges from Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Benjamin says you can keep it safe and stain-free in a plastic sleeve — like the ones used for ID badges. A set of five plastic sleeves could be had for $4.99 on Amazon. 

Another way to protect your vaccination record? As AARP has urged, do not post your vaccine card on social media because it contains sensitive information. Doing so is waving red meat in front of a sharp-fanged identity thief. Instead, treat your hard-earned vaccine card like you would your Social Security card. It’s important, private and uniquely yours.

How to get a replacement vaccine card

If you have already laminated your vaccine card, don’t panic. Some big-box stores have been promoting free lamination of COVID-19 vaccine cards — in an apparent bid to drive foot traffic. Should you need a COVID-19 booster in the future, you can ask for another paper record to prove it.

If you lost your vaccine card, or never received one in the first place, the CDC recommends contacting the site where you got your first shot. If you are unable to reach the original vaccine provider, try your state health department’s Immunization Information System (IIS). Vaccine providers are required to report all COVID vaccinations to the state. The CDC has contact information for the IIS in your state.

by Katherine Skiba, AARP, April 22, 2021 – Katherine Skiba covers scams and fraud for AARP. Previously she was a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She was a recipient of Harvard University’s Nieman Fellowship and is author of the book Sister in the Band of Brothers: Embedded With the 101st Airborne in Iraq.

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