The cases of coronavirus are ticking again in the U.S., but experts say it’s unlikely we’ll return to an era where COVID-vaccine cards act like IDs to get into restaurants, watch the show or board an international flight.
So can we finally clean out our wallets and say sayonara to those little white cards? Here’s what the experts say.
Do COVID vaccination cards matter?
Dr. David Buchholzsenior medical director at Columbia Primary Care and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, tells Yahoo Life that he thinks there is no longer a need for COVID vaccine cards.
“There are probably a couple of reasons why they don’t matter anymore,” he says. “First of all, no one will ever ask for (COVID vaccination cards) again to enter any kind of public area. The other part is: COVID-19 is no longer a new virus, so starting this fall, I think it’s expected that everyone will get a booster shot once a year, just like we do flu shots. For those of us who have had six vaccinations, it’s probably no longer necessary to present to anyone other than perhaps your doctor.”
Who still needs to show proof of vaccination?
But that doesn’t mean they’re completely irrelevant. Some people – including those working in healthcare – still need proof that they have been vaccinated.
“There are populations that need to show proof of a flu shot every year, and they’re probably the same people who need to show proof of a COVID-19 shot,” Buchholz says. “Because I work in healthcare, I have to show proof that I got the flu shot in order to see patients. The same thing has historically been true of COVID-19.”
People who live or work in collective living environments, such as college dormitories or nursing homes, are also likely to be required to provide proof of vaccination — though policies vary by region, state, city, and even facility.
“There are still places that require vaccination mandates – and remember, this is not something specific to COVID-19. For example, children have long been required to have vaccines against all kinds of infectious diseases to go to school. Dr. Dean Winslow, professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at Stanford Health Care, tells Yahoo Life. “So I think keeping a comprehensive record of vaccinations is beneficial for everyone.”
For parents, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hold on to your child’s original COVID vaccination card. Your pediatrician can usually provide any proof of vaccination that a school or summer camp may require.
“Kids get so many vaccines, especially in the first 18 months, and then they start getting a booster at age 4. And COVID is just one of those many, many vaccines,” says Buchholz. “In most cases, the COVID-19 vaccine is documented along with all the other vaccines. And so you probably don’t need to keep the card in that case because your doctor, who probably gave the vaccine, has all that vaccination information.”
What should I do with my card?
You no longer need to have your vaccination card with you every day – but don’t throw it away just yet.
“I don’t think I’d ever throw away personal health information just to be safe,” says Buchholz. “Just like a lot of records we keep, we might not look at them for years and years and years and then for some reason we want it and wonder why we threw it away. So I would keep it in a safe place — like where I keep my Social Security card and passport — and not throw it away.”
A A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said you should treat your COVID vaccination card like any medical record and give a copy to your primary care provider while keeping one for yourself.
Winslow suggests taking a photo of the vaccination card and saving it on your phone because it’s an easy way to keep track of it.
“Most of us these days have iPhones or other smart phones, which make it pretty easy to store data, and you don’t have to have a big laminated piece of paper in your wallet,” he says.
What if I’ve lost it?
If you lose your COVID vaccination card, Buchholz says not to worry.
“If you were to lose yours, I don’t think I’d deliberately go out and get one unless you’re in a situation where you think you have to provide the evidence,” he says. “Don’t throw it away, but if it’s lost, don’t necessarily work too hard to get it.”
Although the CDC logo is displayed on the COVID vaccine cards, they cannot help you get a new one if you want to replace yours. Some states you have registries that include adult vaccines, but you may have better luck trying closer to home by contacting your doctor or the chain pharmacy that administered the vaccine. They can’t give you another little white card, but they can offer you some other digital or paper confirmation that you’ve been vaccinated.
One easy way to get the evidence, Buchholz…