HomeHealthThe CDC has stopped printing COVID vaccine cards. Here's what you...

The CDC has stopped printing COVID vaccine cards. Here’s what you can do with your old one.

Because COVID-19 vaccines are no longer distributed by the federal government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stopped printing those little white vaccine cards that were once so ubiquitous during the COVID pandemic.

The discontinuation of the cards is not expected to be a major change, as experts say we are unlikely to return to the era when COVID vaccine cards functioned as IDs to enter restaurants, see a show or attend to board an international flight.

Can we finally clean out our wallets and say ‘sayonara’ to those little white cards? Here’s what experts told Yahoo Life earlier this summer.

Are COVID vaccine cards important?

Dr. David Buchholz, senior medical director of Columbia Primary Care and assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, tells Yahoo Life he doesn’t think COVID vaccine cards matter anymore.

“There are probably a number of reasons why they don’t matter anymore,” he says. “First of all, no one ever asks [for COVID vaccine cards] more for access to any public space. The second piece is: COVID-19 is no longer a new virus, and so I think starting this fall there will be an expectation that everyone will get a booster once a year, just like we do for flu shots. For those of us who have received six injections, it is probably no longer necessary to show this to anyone other than perhaps your doctor.

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Who may still need to show proof of vaccination?

But that doesn’t mean they are completely irrelevant. Some people – including those who work in healthcare – will still need proof that they have been vaccinated.

“There are populations that will need to show proof of the flu shot every year, and those will likely be the same people that will need to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Buchholz said. “Because I work in healthcare, I have to prove that I have received a flu shot before I can see patients. The same has historically been true for COVID-19.”

People who live or work in congregate living settings, such as college dorms or nursing homes, will also likely be required to show proof of vaccination — although policies vary by region, state, city and even institution.

“There are still places that require vaccination mandates – and remember, this is not something peculiar to COVID-19. For example, children have long had to have vaccines against all kinds of infectious diseases in order to go to school,” says Dr. Dean Winslow, professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at Stanford Health Care, told Yahoo Life. “So I think keeping a comprehensive record of your vaccinations is helpful for everyone.”

For parents, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to keep your child’s original COVID vaccination card. Your pediatrician can usually provide any proof of vaccination that may be needed for school or summer camp.

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“Children get so many vaccines, especially in the first 18 months of life, and then they get a boost at age four. And COVID is just one of those many, many vaccines,” says Buchholz. “In most cases, the COVID-19 vaccine is documented along with all those other vaccines. And so you probably don’t need to keep the card in that case because your doctor, who probably administered the vaccine, has all that immunization record.”

So 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 would ever throw away personal health information, just in case,” says Buchholz. “Like so much of the data we keep, we might not look at it 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 my passport – and not throw it away.”

A spokesperson for the CDC said you should treat your COVID vaccination card like any medical record and give a copy to your doctor, while keeping one for yourself.

Winslow suggests taking a photo of your vaccination card and saving it to your phone so you can easily keep track of it.

“Most of us these days have iPhones or other smartphones that make it pretty easy to store data and don’t require you to carry a big piece of laminated paper in your wallet,” he says.

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What if I lose it?

If you lose your COVID vaccination card, Buchholz says not to worry.

“If you’ve lost yours, I don’t think I’m going to get one on purpose unless you’re in a situation where you feel like you have to show proof,” he says. “Don’t throw it away, but if you lose it, you don’t necessarily have to work too hard to get it.”

Even though the CDC logo is on the COVID vaccination cards, they can’t help you get a new one if you want to replace yours. Some states have registries that include vaccines for adults, but you may have better luck if you try closer to home by contacting your doctor’s office or the pharmacy chain that administered your vaccine. They can’t give you another little white card, but they can give you some other type of digital or paper verification that you’ve been vaccinated.

An easy way to get evidence, Buchholz says, would be to get a boost with the new COVID vaccine.

“Just take the booster and you’re considered fully immunized,” he says. “You just need proof of that one injection.”

Buchholz says that “the most likely place someone will get a COVID shot this fall will be the doctor’s office — and they always provide a summary after the visit or something indicating which vaccines you received. Or, if you go to a pharmacy, if you ask, they will always give you an overview of the vaccine that has just been administered.”

This article was originally published on August 2, 2023 and has been updated.

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