You've been vaccinated. Now what do you do with the vaccine card?

Photo of Amanda Cuda
A stack of vaccine cards wait to be handed out to registered residents after they receive their Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

A stack of vaccine cards wait to be handed out to registered residents after they receive their Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Kimberly P. Mitchell / Detroit Free Press

With more people getting one of the vaccines against COVID-19, a new problem has emerged: What do you do with the vaccination card?

Health experts said people will likely need to be ready to show the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccination card — or a photo of it — to prove they have been inoculated.

“I think we’re going to see as things open up, more and more places are going to require that,” said Dr. Daniel Gottschall, vice president of medical affairs for the Fairfield region of Hartford HealthCare and St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. “Of course, this presents a problem in that the CDC has given us a card that doesn’t fit in our wallets.”

There is some disagreement about the best way to store or preserve the documents. Some recommend laminating the cards. Some advise against it. Some said there are other ways to keep the card safe. All agree the card (or at least the information on it) must be protected.

Here are some things to know about the vaccination cards:

Don't lose the card

“You have to keep it, so you can prove that, at some point in time, you were vaccinated,” said Dr. Gregory Buller, associate chief medical officer and chairman of the department of medicine at Bridgeport Hospital. “There’s going to be all sorts of situations where you’ll have to show you’re vaccinated.”

Gottschall said he’s already run into the issue when trying to buy tickets to a New York Mets baseball game. While purchasing the tickets, Gottschall said, he was told people attending the game would have to present either proof of vaccination or proof of a recent negative COVID test.

This leads to another important point about vaccine cards, said Dr. Cornelius Ferreira, system chair of primary care for Nuvance Health and the head of health network’s vaccine task force.

“You need to make sure you get a card when you get vaccinated,” Ferreira said.

Take a picture of the card

As far as what to do with the card, many experts recommend taking a picture of it and saving it to your phone.

“Then you have a permanent record of the vaccine,” Ferreira said.

He said, while someone might not want to bring their vaccine card with them everywhere they go, “people carry their phones with them everywhere.”

Consider laminating the card - but take a picture first

Laminating seems like an obvious solution — after all, licenses and other important cards are protected this way. Buller, for one, is considering doing it himself.

“I don’t see a reason not to,” he said. “It certainly would keep it safer.”

Ferreira, however, said there are some concerns about laminating.

“Laminating can degrade the ink (on the card), so you would have to make sure that the ink wouldn’t be degraded by whatever laminating process you use,” he said.

People also need to make sure their card is completely filled in before laminating.

And Ferreira said, as a precaution, still take a picture of the card.

Consider other ways to keep the card safe

Aside from pictures and lamination, there are other ways to preserve and protect vaccine cards. For instance, at Stamford Health, vaccinated people can get a plastic sleeve that fits over the card.

“I’ve heard of using plastic sleeves or Ziploc baggies,” Ferreira said.

Yet, he continued to push saving a photograph of the card as the best way to make sure the record is preserved and with you at all times.

“Digital is best,” Ferreira said.