More than 167 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. More shots mean more people are carrying vaccination record cards, which could be tickets to resuming concerts, international travel, and other social activities.
The white cards are the closest thing Americans have to an actual vaccine passport, and health officials are urging vaccinated citizens to take good care of them.
Private companies and organizations, including IBM, have their own vaccine card systems, but the next challenge is to standardize certification nationwide. That’s according to Maureen Miller, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Columbia University.
“Until there's some kind of guidance — and it's probably going to have to be the CDC making rules around what can be recognized, or even a list of what can be recognized — it's just a real mess of a system that I think will evolve,” she says.
Globally, the World Health Organization issues a Yellow Card, or Carte Jaune, which is recognized as an official vaccination passport.
Miller says the best thing to do for your card now is to keep it in a safe location.
She recommends laminating the card after receiving all vaccine doses. “I'm certainly getting mine laminated, just so that if I lose it, nobody can then alter it.”
Miller also strongly advises against posting photos of vaccine cards online. They include sensitive information such as vaccine batch numbers, names, and birth dates.
“If you show examples of what the information on each vial looks like, anybody can make up any kind of information. They can even copy your card and just change the name.”
She adds that in the case of a lost card, people who have been vaccinated can get a replacement card from their vaccine provider.