Don’t laminate your COVID vaccination card before doing these 5 things
If you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, you received a white paper card with information about your vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designed the card to provide you with proof of your inoculation against the coronavirus disease that has devastated the country since early 2020.
Your card has your full name, birthdate, what COVID-19 vaccine you received, and the dates and locations where you received them.
So, once you have your vaccination card, what do you do with it? And, since it’s too big to keep in a plastic pocket of a wallet or credit card holder, how do you protect it from smudges, coffee stains, and tearing at the edges?
Some people are buying cardholders and sleeves specifically designed for vaccination cards, while others are laminating the card. Laminating makes your paper card more durable and prevents tearing.
Dr. Arthur Caplan said he started two months ago advising people to laminate their vaccination cards. “Knowing who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 is going to be crucial in the months to come,” said Caplan, a professor, and director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine in New York City, “and it’s going to be absolutely crucial for getting into events, traveling, maybe even getting into work.”
Some people advise against laminating vaccination cards in case a COVID-19 booster shot is needed in the future. Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, says not to worry about that because you’ll probably get a new card for a booster shot.
Wait Before You Laminate
Before you laminate your card, Caplan and Wen recommend taking these five steps:
1. Make sure the information on your vaccination card is accurate. Before you leave your first vaccination appointment, check your card for errors, such as a misspelled name or a transposed number in your birthdate. Besides that, you want to make sure that the card has the correct date and location of your vaccinations.
2. Take a photo of both sides of your vaccination card. Wen recommends using a camera or mobile phone camera to take a picture of both sides of your vaccination card as soon as possible after your second shot. Wen suggests emailing the photos to yourself “just to make sure that there’s another copy of it.” Then, store the photos in a safe place.
3. Make a paper photocopy of both sides of your vaccination card. Along with making a digital copy, Wen recommends making a printed copy of your vaccination card. Having multiple copies of your card in different forms “is a wise choice,” she said.
4. Ask where your vaccination record is being kept. You will want to know the location of your vaccination record, Caplan said. The first place to ask is your vaccination location. If people there do not know, check with your state health department’s Immunization Information System, which maintains databases of all immunizations administered by health care providers. You can also use your mobile phone to enroll in V-safe or VaxText, the CDC’s smartphone-based applications that allow you to access your vaccination information.
5. Laminate your card after your second dose, if it’s a two-shot vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. This means the health care worker giving you the shots must write down details about both doses. It’s best, then, to wait until you have gotten both shots before laminating your card.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. So, if your personal information is correct, you can go ahead and laminate your card.
According to Wen and Caplan, another thing you can do is to tell your doctor and family members that you have been vaccinated. In the event that you have an emergency, your family or doctor can let the treating physicians know about your COVID-19 vaccination.
What Not To do With Your Vaccination Card
Security experts are warning vaccine recipients not to post your card on any social media accounts where identity thieves can steal your sensitive information.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) compares identity theft to working a puzzle. Just like a puzzle has pieces, your vaccination card has pieces of your personal information, such as your date of birth, the date, and the location of where you received your vaccination.
According to the FTC, scammers can take this personal information and possibly piece together your passwords, Social Security number, or PIN numbers. Once scammers have the pieces they need, they can use the information to open new accounts in your name and claim your income taxes, among other things.
“You don’t want to give identity thieves the pieces they need to finish the picture,” warns the FTC’s division of consumer information.
If you want to celebrate your vaccination, the FTC suggests taking a photo of the adhesive bandage placed on the injection site or post a photo of the white or orange vaccine sticker recipients receive after getting their shots.
For now, the experts suggest putting your card in the same place as your passport, birth certificate, and other official documents.
“There’s no reason for you to be carrying it around with you everywhere, especially if you have a digital copy on your phone,” Wen said. “There are still really not enough people who have been vaccinated, that establishments have been setting up requirements for proof of vaccination yet.”