For those who want to travel, having proof of receiving a full series of COVID vaccines (and, now, perhaps a booster shot) may be one of the most important things you’ll want to have with you when you’re going out of town. Depending on your travel plans, you’ll potentially need to show it to get on the plane, gain access to a country, or just go to a restaurant, theater, sporting event, etc. So really, treat it like gold!
Because it’s such an important thing, you might even want to laminate your COVID vaccine card. Think twice about that, though – here’s why that may not be such a good idea. Since that post was written, there’s a new risk for lamination – it may be difficult to document booster shots on the card if it’s permanently encased in plastic (although there may be ways around it, i.e., if the facility uses a sticker, if you got your vaccines all at the same place they may be able to issue you a new card, etc., etc.).
Unfortunately, the CDC didn’t make the cards a “wallet-friendly” shape or size, which makes misplacing it more of a possibility. So besides the risk of ruining your card, there’s always the risk of losing it. Here are a few things to know before it happens to you.
How to get a replacement
From the CDC’s website:
CDC does not maintain vaccination records or determine how vaccination records are used, and CDC does not provide the white CDC-labeled COVID-19 Vaccination Record card to people. These cards are distributed to vaccination providers by state health departments.
So although the federal government is running the show in terms of making the vaccine available (Read: they supply it and even pay for it!), it’s the individual states keeping track of who gets which shot(s) and when.
Also from the CDC:
If you have lost your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card or don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider directly to access your vaccination record. If you cannot contact your vaccination provider site directly, contact your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS).
So if you got all your shots at a pharmacy, you might be in luck – pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS should be able to look you up by name and date of birth. If they have your shots recorded (and they should), they can give you a replacement card. The same goes if you got your COVID shots at your doctor’s office, a local hospital, etc. And if you got it at a place that had an event and the person/people giving the shots was provided by Walgreens, CVS, etc., that pharmacy chain would have a record, as well.
Whoever it is, I would recommend calling them first, since they’ll have to look up your records.
But what if you don’t know who the provider was?
Some people got their COVID shots from mass vaccination sites and may not know who the provider was. Or it may have been a pop-up site from the federal government and isn’t there anymore. If that’s the case, don’t worry, you can still get proof from your state.
Although the CDC isn’t keeping track of “shots in arms” (save for numbers of same), they do have a list of the contact info for the immunization information system (IIS) for every state (And territory. And Washington D.C.), should you lose your COVID vaccine card. They recommend you contact your state health department if you have any other questions about vaccination records.
Of course, the success of trying to get in contact with someone from a state health department is only as good as each state’s health department ;-). For some states (Florida is a good example), you may be better off going through your county’s health department, rather than your state’s.
What if you got your shots from different providers?
I got my first 2 shots at a mass vaccination site offered by a local hospital chain, and my booster shot at Walgreen’s. If I were to lose my card, I would go through the state (well, I’m Florida, so I’d go through the county health department), so I’d have proof of all 3 shots. If I only wanted the proof of the first 2, I’d try going through the hospital chain.
IMPORTANT! Have an electronic copy of your card!
For some places you may travel to, you may or may not necessarily need to have the actual card. So…
No matter what, you should definitely have a photo of the front and back of your COVID vaccine card. If you want to keep those photos super secret for some reason, you can use a locked photograph app that keeps it private. Some people have also emailed themselves a copy of the photos, so they have it in 2 places on their phones.
I would also recommend enrolling in whichever possible “vaccine passport” programs and/or apps you can (or think you will need). For example:
- CLEAR has one (it’s free).
- New York State has its own, if you have any thoughts of visiting there.
- You’ll need to upload a copy of your COVID vaccine card to ArriveCAN if you’re traveling to Canada.
- IATA offers Travel Pass and it’s being piloted by a handful of countries and airlines.
And if you’re concerned about HIPAA, don’t be. Vaccine passports (or showing your COVID vaccine card to get onto a plane) have nothing to do with HIPAA.
Most importantly, treat your COVID vaccine card as if it were priceless and as important as your passport or driver’s license. Because if you want to travel, it really is.
Feature Photo: Jernej Furman / flickr
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary