Since December 2020, tens of millions of Americans have gotten vaccinated. And with each first shot comes a 4x3 inch COVID-19 vax card. The awkwardly-shaped piece of paper has unlocked the door to many restaurants, movie theaters, and concerts around the US and world. But somewhere along the way, you might have lost your card (or could lose it). And odds are you’ll have to show vax proof at some point.
The CDC says it can’t replace your vax card. No, seriously. Even though the health agency’s logo is printed on it, it doesn’t keep a record of everyone’s shots. Instead, the CDC issues the cards to state health departments. Which gives the pieces of paper to vaccination providers. And while that may sound like a lot of hoops to jump through if your card is lost, we have some recs to make it easier. Here’s what to do if you lost your vax card…
Remember Where You Got Vaccinated
If your regular health care provider gave you your shot(s), they should be able to let you know when you received your doses and which kind. They might even be able to fill out a brand new vax card for you. But if you got yours at a pop-up clinic or mass vaccination site, you may have to…
Contact Your State Health Department
Vax providers have to report COVID-19 immunizations to their state’s immunization information systems (IIS). Aka the confidential database that keeps tabs on doses. Most states typically have a website where you can email or request a PDF of your record. Here’s how you can get a hold of your state’s info.
Not a material girl: Several states let you access your COVID-19 vax info from your phone via platforms they offer. Think: California, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, among others. Arizona, DC, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, and more even use the same service called MyIR Mobile. But not all have gone digital.
Contact Your Pharmacy
If you got your vaccinations at a major pharmacy like CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart, here’s what you can do:
CVS: Patients can access their vax record via the CVS Pharmacy app or website. If you go in person, a pharmacy employee can print a paper copy. Pro tip: Contact your local CVS to double check what kind of ID is needed to access your records. Here’s how you can find a location near you.
Walgreens: Its Digital Dose Card page can give you access to your vax stats. Or you can do it via the Walgreens App. The pharmacy chain says it’ll soon allow customers to add their record to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay. Asking in person may also be another option. Here’s how you can find a Walgreens in your area.
Walmart: The chain says it offers a digital vaccine record. Just like it sounds, it’s a backup of your paper copy. You can access it by logging into your Walmart account. For security purposes, you’ll have to answer some questions to verify you’re you.
Take Steps To Protect Your New Card
New card, who dis? If you have a digital vax card, you should be all set. Just make sure that your phone’s charged when you go out or travel. If you got a paper copy, consider taking a screenshot of your info and saving it to your ‘favorites’ album — places may accept a photocopy along with your ID. And keep the paper copy in a safe place. Here are some more steps to keep your info safe…
Don’t post your vax info on social media. Posting your vax card on Insta is so 2021. Still, it’s important to remember this tip. Your vax record contains important info like your name, date of birth, and where and when you got your vaccine. That’s valuable info for identity thieves who could use your DOB to try and guess your Social Security number…and potentially steal your identity.
Don’t buy or fake a vax card. Because it’s illegal. Across the country, different cities have implemented a variety of vaccine mandates, from offices to sports arenas. And there've been countless incidents of people trying to use fake cards to bypass the rules. (See this, this, and this) This kind of creative writing could mean a fine or even jail time.
PS: We searched far and wide for the best — and the cutest — holders and lanyards to keep your VIP (very important paper) safe. Check out our recs here.
It’s not the end of the world if you lose your COVID-19 vaccination card. But you don’t want to go too long without having some kind of proof. As the pandemic has shown, things can change in an instant (hi, Omicron). Flashing that vax card is one way to prove you’re keeping yourself and others safe, and it gives you the freedom to enjoy more of pre-pandemic life.
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