Here's What To Do If You Lose Your COVID-19 Vaccine Card

Before you hit the panic button over a misplaced vaccine card, catch your breath as you have options to replace it.

Photo: Getty Images

With COVID-19 cases continuing to surge nationwide —due in part to the highly contagious Delta variant — strategies are being implemented to help slow the spread of the virus. For instance, this week New York City became the first U.S. city to announce that it will require proof of vaccination for indoor activities such as dining, entertainment, and fitness. This means both patrons and workers will have to provide proof that they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (

It remains to be seen, however, if other U.S. cities will follow New York's "Key to NYC Pass" program, which will roll out this month but go into full effect in September. With new protocols coming soon, you might be wondering what may be the best way to keep your COVID-19 vaccination card handy. And before you panic about the possibility of a misplaced card, please catch your breath. Fortunately, there are ways to replace a lost card or to safely stow the one you already have.

What to Do When You Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

When you receive your first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will be handed a COVID-19 vaccination record card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by medical personnel at the administration site. The card will include some pretty important information, such as which of the three vaccines you received, the date and location that the dose(s) were administered, as well as your Immunization Information Systems record number. (Although different in every state, an IIS record typically contains a person's full name, birth date and state/country, and sex, among other inoculation-related details, according to the CDC.)

As soon as you get your card, the quickest and easiest thing to do is to take a photo of it with your phone so you'll have digital proof of vaccination. Though it's tempting, don't snap a selfie holding up your vaccine card and post on social media. Given it contains personal identifying information about you, such as your full name and birthday, it could be problematic if someone else gets ahold of the photo.

You'll then want to store the photo securely. First, iPhone users can select the "Share" button when looking at the photo in question (typically the icon on the bottom left corner of the photo). Next, users can tap "Hide," which will conceal the image in a hidden album. That way, if anyone is scrolling through your camera roll, they won't come across a shot of your vaccination card. Should you need to access the photo, however, you can tap "Albums," and then scroll to the section marked "Utilities." From there, you can click the "Hidden" category and the image will appear.

Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy smartphone users can create a "Locked Folder" as well to safely store the picture of a COVID-19 vaccine card. There are also several apps available, (many of which are free) that allow you to upload a scanned copy or photo of your vaccine card, such as Clear, VaxYes and Airside. (

What Happens If You Lose Your COVID-19 Vaccine Card?

If you didn't receive a card in the first place or lost track of yours, you can get a new one. Start by contacting the location where you got your dose(s), whether a pharmacy, a health care professional, or a clinic site. You can also reach out to your state health department's IIS (whose contact information is available on the CDC's site), as all COVID-19 vaccination providers are required to report vaccinations to their IIS.

There are two CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination programs users can enroll in, V-Safe or VaxText. Within six weeks of receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, one can enroll in V-Safe. This allows smartphone users to tell the CDC about any side effects they may receive after receiving a COVID-19, as well as reminders about a potential second dose, if necessary. VaxText is a free (!) text messaging service for patients, who have provided their vaccination information (the date of first vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccine received), to receive reminders based on the accurate vaccination schedule, which is 21 or 28 days between doses, according to the CDC's website.

Several states have also rolled out apps for citizens to access state vaccination records. Residents of New Jersey and New York can sign up for the ‎Docket and Excelsior apps, respectively. For those in New Jersey using Docket, which is available for both iOS and Android, users must have a valid email or phone number on file with the state's IIS to access COVID-19 immunization records. The Excelsior Pass, which is available for free Apple download or Google Play Store, provides digital proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for New Yorkers. California also launched its Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record, which requires residents to fill out a form online (full name and date of birth) and provide either an email or cell phone number to be associated with their COVID-19 vaccination record. Once the fields are filled, users will receive a link to a QR code and a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination record.

Additionally, CVS also enables customers to access their vaccination records online, as well as other inoculations they may have received. Users can either save their COVID-19 vaccination card as a PDF or print it. Customers can also scan a QR code that will share one's name, date of birth, and vaccination details.

How to Store Your Vaccine Card Safely

While carrying your COVID-19 vaccination card in your wallet, along with other forms of ID, might seem like the simplest option, you might have a lingering fear that you could possibly lose it. If you choose to keep a vaccine card on you, you can always store it in a plastic cardholder for easy access.(ICYDK: Pfizer's Working On a Third Dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine That 'Strongly' Boosts Protection)

Along with fears about case levels rising, breakthrough infections, and keeping you and your loved ones safe, storing your vaccine info should be one less thing you have to worry about. Thankfully, it's easy and convenient to do so.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. As updates about coronavirus COVID-19 continue to evolve, it's possible that some information and recommendations in this story have changed since initial publication. We encourage you to check in regularly with resources such as the CDC, the WHO, and your local public health department for the most up-to-date data and recommendations.

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