It’s the end of an era for a once very important pandemic document: The common white COVID-19 vaccination cards are no longer being made.
Now that the federal government is no longer distributing COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stopped making new cards.
Between late 2020, when the first vaccines were released, and May 10, the federal government sent out more than 980 million cards, according to the latest CDC data.
Federal and local health officials don’t think this change will be a big deal, as the days of carrying these cards in your purse or wallet to gain entry to events, bars, and restaurants have mostly passed. If you still have your card, it’s still valid as proof of vaccination. However, those who need their COVID-19 vaccination records will have to request them in the same way they would for any other vaccine.
In many occasions, the place where you received your vaccine, such as a clinic, pharmacy, or health department, can provide you with your vaccination records. Each state and some cities maintain a vaccination registry, but the rules for when records are added and how you can obtain copies can vary. It’s important to note that there is no single national registry for vaccination records.
For example, in Texas, patients need to give written consent to have their vaccination information included in the registry, as mentioned by David Andres Alegria, a spokesperson for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. In other locations, like Wyoming and Philadelphia’s city-specific record system, vaccine providers are required to log all vaccinations. These differences reflect the diverse approaches taken to maintain and access vaccination records across different regions.
In several states, individuals have the option to access their vaccination records digitally, either through websites or mobile apps. Users can store a certificate or a QR code as proof of their vaccination, making it convenient for verification. Additionally, some websites can track and send reminders when it’s time for another vaccination.
Jeff Chorath, who oversees the vaccination information system in Washington state, highlights the positive aspect of increased autonomy over patient records during the pandemic. In Washington, there are two digital options for obtaining vaccination records: one that includes a comprehensive list of all vaccinations recorded in the state database and another specific to COVID-19 vaccines. This digital approach has made it easier for individuals to access and manage their vaccination records.
In some states, earning your vaccination records digitally might not be as quick and straightforward, potentially leading to longer wait times. Additionally, there could be gaps in state databases. For instance, if you received your vaccination from a federal health provider, those records might be stored in a separate system.
Regarding your old vaccination card, it’s probably not time to send it off to the Smithsonian just yet. It’s wise to keep it in a secure place, similar to any other important health record, as advised by Heidi Gurov, a nurse consultant at the Wyoming Department of Health.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of the CDC, reported that four million people in the U.S. have received the latest COVID-19 vaccine since its approval last month, with a total of 10 million doses having been shipped to healthcare providers.
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