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What to do if you lose your COVID-19 vaccine card

October 5, 2021, 7:00 PM UTC

Those without proof of COVID-19 vaccination may increasingly find themselves denied entry to places such as airports, restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues. And soon enough, nearly 100 million Americans may have to prove to their employers that they’ve received their COVID jab in order to keep their jobs.

After receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, individuals were given a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccination card that can be shown as proof of vaccination to businesses, employers, and schools mandating immunization. These cards haven’t exactly been wallet- or pocket-friendly, though, making lost or damaged cards a relatively common occurrence.

The need for these cards is only likely to grow­­—you’ll also need yours when it’s time to get the COVID-19 booster shot—so here’s what to do if yours is nowhere to be found.

What do I do if I lost or damaged my vaccine card?

If you need a replacement for your COVID-19 vaccine card, first contact your vaccination provider—for example, a CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, health clinic, doctor’s office, etc.—according to the CDC. Places such as CVS and Walgreens keep records of all vaccinations that occur at their pharmacies and will assist patients in accessing copies of their records.

If you can’t contact your provider or you received your vaccine at a mass-vaccination site, then the CDC recommends you reach out to your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS). All vaccination providers are required to report COVID-19 vaccinations to the IIS in their state. The CDC has a list with contact information for each state health department’s IIS.

Individuals can usually expect to receive a copy of their vaccination record from their state health department within one to two weeks, although the timing may vary by state. Some states will provide another physical card, while others will only provide a digital record.

The CDC itself does not maintain vaccination records or provide COVID-19 vaccine card replacements.

For any additional questions regarding vaccination records, the CDC recommends individuals reach out to their state health department.

How to keep your card safe

Much of the pain associated with losing your vaccine card—and with securing a new one—can be avoided by taking some simple steps. First, the CDC suggests taking a picture of the card to serve as a backup copy. Most places will accept a picture of your card as proof of vaccination.

Some states—including California, Hawaii, New York, and Oregon—have created ways in which you can store your COVID-19 vaccination records digitally. For example, New York residents can upload their card information on the Excelsior app and present their digital Excelsior Pass in place of the physical card as proof of vaccination.

The CDC also created an app called v-safe that allows people to store their vaccination information. If you enrolled in v-safe after receiving your first dose of the vaccine, you can access your information on that app, according to the CDC.

Laminating your vaccine card is not recommended. When it comes time to receive a COVID-19 booster, your vaccine provider will need to add that information to the blank spaces on your card, but you can find protective plastic sleeves for your card from places like Amazon and Staples.  

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