Everyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccine will be given a card that reveals which shot you received, as well as the date and location you received it.
When vaccines first rolled out, the cards served mostly as a reminder for second doses. Now, they carry much more value as some stores, restaurants and workplaces require proof of vaccination to enter or use their services, thanks to yet another surge in coronavirus cases across the nation.
That’s why health officials say it’s important to keep your card in a safe place.
You can laminate it for free at the nearest Staples store. However, some experts advise against it because the protective plastic won’t allow health care providers to add information about booster shots you may receive in the future, which some vaccine developers have said may be necessary to combat more dangerous coronavirus variants.
Another option to keep your card safe is to slide it in plastic sheet protectors. That way vaccine providers can still jot down information.
The simplest option: take a picture of your card with your phone after receiving your final dose as a backup copy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
So, what happens if you lose your COVID-19 vaccine card?
The first step is to directly contact the location where you received your vaccine; they will likely have your information locked in an electronic data system.
If you cannot get into contact with your vaccination provider, the CDC suggests calling your state’s “immunization information system,” which all vaccine providers are required to report to. Here is a list of each state’s IIS.
“V-safe” is another option, the agency says. It’s a smartphone-based tool that sends text messages for second dose reminders and health check-ins. If you enroll after your first dose, you can access your vaccine information through the app if you lose your card.
“VaxText” is another free text messaging platform where you can access the information on your vaccine card if lost.
If neither of those options help you retrieve your vaccine data and you still need your second dose, the CDC recommends speaking with your vaccine provider about next steps.
More than 165.6 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Aug. 5, or about 50% of the U.S. population, according to a CDC tracker.