COVID

What to do if you’ve lost your COVID-19 vaccination card

Doctors and pharmacies may be able to issue another card and in some states you can get digital proof.

Paul Ratje/The New York Times


More than a year ago, when COVID-19 vaccines became available and jabs started going into arms, it became a point of pride for some people to show off a bandaged shoulder and a white COVID-19 Vaccination Record card.

But as the coronavirus pandemic rolled on and the bandages came off, some people simply lost track of those awkward 4.25-by-3.5-inch white cards.

And now you may really need yours.

But what if you lost it?

Relax.

Many health departments can provide you with your vaccination information. The records themselves are not lost.

But if you are hoping to use that card to prove your vaccination status at work or, say, to travel to one of those countries with a more digital-first approach to record-keeping, losing it may make it harder for you to take part in those markers of everyday life like being around other people. Here is what to do.

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Your vaccination records might be on your phone.

You could be lucky enough to live in one of the states that let people access their vaccination records from their smartphones. Those states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.

Other states have websites where vaccination information can be requested, usually as a PDF or email. Those states include Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Things get a little more complicated if you are in one of the states that did not go digital.

Could your doctor give you another card?

It depends. Your doctor might have extra cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they should at least have a record of when and where you received your vaccine shot(s) and booster(s). Ask them.

And most states require health care providers who administer vaccine shots to log that information with state health officials. So state health officials should have that info too.

But no, the CDC will not send you another one.

It was not actually the CDC that gave you that card bearing its logo. The agency provides them to state health departments, which in turn give them to local vaccination providers. Those local providers give them to people when they get their shots. So do not call your friend’s cousin who works there looking for a favor.

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I was vaccinated at CVS. Or Walmart. Or Walgreens. Can they replace my card?

You are in luck.

CVS: A record of the vaccination is available to patients via the CVS Pharmacy app or on the company’s website, a spokesperson said. A pharmacy employee can print a paper record for you, the spokesperson said.

Walgreens: The company keeps records of all vaccinations administered by its pharmacies, according to a spokeswoman. If patients lose their physical card, they are encouraged to contact their pharmacy for a new one, the spokesperson said.

Walmart: If you were vaccinated at a store or one of its sponsored events, Walmart can verify your information and connect with your state’s immunization registry. Once that is complete, Walmart will reissue a vaccine card to reflect the doses administered at Walmart, a spokesperson said in a statement. The company can also provide that information digitally or via a QR code.

This is so complicated.

It is certainly easier in some places than others. Those CDC cards are too big to fit in a wallet, making them unwieldy and, arguably, prone to being displaced. That is one reason many states took a more digital approach.

In New York, for example, you can access the city Department of Health’s website and obtain vaccination records, a spokesperson for the department said.

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Getting records from the city’s site, My Vaccine Record, is pretty fast. I punched in some biographical information, and within seconds, I got my vaccine history. It was three pages long, so I may not hang the whole thing on my fridge.

Some apps work mainly as digital wallets, a place to store information on your phone until you need to show someone. Others have additional features, such as the ability to schedule COVID tests and receive alerts about potential exposures nearby.

The Excelsior Pass Plus app from New York state can show test results and vaccine records. The free app can be downloaded at epass.ny.gov/home.

Outside the United States, many countries have taken a more streamlined approach. In Britain, the National Health Service displays a QR code for fully vaccinated residents. Similarly, members of the European Union issue a digital COVID certificate showing that a person either is vaccinated, has tested negative or has recovered from COVID-19.

Once you get your records, save it!

Many places that require proof of vaccination will accept a picture of your COVID-19 vaccination card. So once you get it, photograph it. Just make sure it is in focus.

And if you received a QR code with your vaccination records, you can store it in the digital wallet on your iPhone (with iOS 15). Those are harder to lose.

There are also apps from Clear, Common Pass, Docket and IBM that can help you keep track of your vaccination record.

Please do not buy, borrow or make your own vaccination card.

As with driver’s licenses and passports, there are big penalties for misrepresenting your vaccination records.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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