What to do with your COVID-19 vaccination card

Now that you’ve made the life-changing decision to get vaccinated against COVID-19, you have another choice to make. This one’s not quite as monumental.

What exactly should you do with your COVID-19 vaccination card?

Sandy Salverson, PharmD, vice president of Pharmacy Operations at OSF HealthCare, offers this guidance.

  1. Celebrate it! There’s hope and safety in that little card.
  2. Keep it in a safe place – but not necessarily on your person.
  3. Laminate it if you want to. Or don’t. There’s no right answer there.
  4. If you happen to lose it, don’t panic.

The reality is, there is no official instruction on what to do with your card, or how it might be used in the future.

“It’s an incomplete conversation,” Sandy said. “There’s a lot we don’t know.”

After your vaccination

“As soon as you receive your card, check to make sure your personal information is correct. If the provider hasn’t added your personal information, you should. Here’s where you can take a picture of your card. That way, if you do lose it, you know exactly what information was on it and where to go to get it replaced,” Sandy said.

Once you’re vaccinated, you may be tempted to share a picture of you with that card on social media. After all, you may be influencing someone else to get vaccinated. Just make sure you cover up the personal information on your card before you take the picture – and use the hashtag #OurBestShot.

What then? Put it in a lockbox? Hang it on your fridge? Or keep it with you at all times?

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“Having it in your personal medical information that you keep at home is appropriate,” Sandy said. “But do you need to keep it in your wallet? Right now, I don’t think you’re going to need to flash this card on a regular basis.”

But Sandy cautions that if you are traveling to a conference or large event, you might want to pack your card. The rules about when proof of vaccination will come into play aren’t written yet.

“Private business owners are going to be able to have their own policies. They can be stricter than public policy. To prevent heartache and headache, it might be worthwhile to have that card in your wallet when you travel,” she said. “But I don’t foresee having to flash your COVID-19 card to get into the grocery store.”

To laminate or not

If people want to laminate their COVID-19 vaccination card, as long as they have finished the shot series, there’s really no harm, Sandy believes.

“I get it; you want to keep it nice,” Sandy said. “Especially if people are carrying it in their wallet. Mine’s ripped already, I know. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t laminate it, if it gives you peace of mind.”

One consideration against laminating is the question about whether any vaccine recipients will need a booster dose.

“We don’t know at this time whether booster doses will be required. There are blank spaces on that card,” Sandy said. “It could be planning for the future, but we don’t know.”

But because the cards are replaceable, and not the sole source of vaccine information, a new vaccination record card can always be started, she said.

One benefit of being connected to a health system with an electronic medical record is that a patient portal is another source of record for your vaccination. OSF HealthCare patients will eventually see their vaccine record in their OSF MyChart account – even if OSF did not administer the vaccine. That’s because vaccines are tracked by the state so records can easily be shared and kept current.

So if you lose your card, put it through the wash or leave it where the dog finds it and chews it up, the worst consequence would likely be a minor inconvenience. It’s your personal record of your immunization, but it’s not the only record. It can be replaced by the pharmacy, doctor’s office or vaccination clinic where you received it.

“It needs to be easy for people, right?” Sandy said.

New vaccines, old school concept

“Vaccination cards are not a new concept. An individual who receives vaccinations at a public health department is typically given a card to track the receipt,” Sandy said. “Even individuals who get most preventive health needs met at their primary care physician’s office might go to a travel clinic for shots before visiting certain countries.”

“Historically, you’d take that card and bring it to your physician’s office,” Sandy said. “We didn’t have all these fancy electronic methods to share records. You’d old-school it and bring this little card to let them know what vaccinations you’ve received.”

But in the end, it’s not the old school card that’s important. The protection against serious illness and death caused by COVID-19 is the real prize.

About Author: Jennifer Towery

Jennifer Towery joined OSF HealthCare in 2012 and is now manager of Editorial Services. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in journalism and speech communications. She was a copy editor, reporter and editor at the Peoria Journal Star for 17 years.

Jennifer lives in Peoria with her husband, son and cat. She loves to read and do jigsaw puzzles, and she enters creative writing competitions for fun.

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Categories: COVID-19, General