What do you do if you’ve lost your vaccination card?

Man holding a COVID-19 vaccination card
Photo via New York National Guard/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: July 8, 2021

Vaccination cards are an immensely important part of the vaccine rollout process. They keep track of which vaccine brand was received, when each shot was administered, and where you received it, along with personal information about the recipient. If you lose that 4-by-3-inch piece of paper, however, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of options if you’ve lost your vaccination card.

If you’ve lost your COVID-19 vaccination card, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends reaching out to your vaccination provider directly. They will be able to access your vaccination records. If you can’t track down your vaccination provider, the CDC advises perusing your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS), which can be accessed through the CDC’s website.

Vaccine providers are required to report any and all vaccines through their state’s IIS, and that should give anyone an avenue to tracking down their vaccine information.

There are a number of purposes for vaccination cards, but the most important of these is following doses of the same vaccine. Different vaccines, like those from Pfizer and Moderna, should not be mixed. So if you received your first dose of Moderna vaccine, it is important you get your second dose from Moderna as well, after the recommended interval. 

Vaccination cards also provide an “entry pass” of sorts for inoculated individuals. Once vaccinated, people are far freer to move about, travel between states and countries, and visit spaces where large groups of people gather. Vaccination cards prove that they are not putting other people at risk when doing so (though some Republican politicians abhor the idea of so-called vaccine passports, while New York has introduced its own version, called the Excelsior Pass). 

Vaccine cards also have several blank lines, marked “other,” underneath the patient information. These may eventually be used to document booster shots or follow-up COVID-19 vaccine doses if they prove to be necessary (which is why you probably shouldn’t laminate your vaccination card). 

Experts recommend taking a snapshot or photocopy of your vaccine card immediately after receiving it. Don’t post any photos to social media—after all, scammers are about—but keep a hold of them in case you end up losing your vaccination card. That way you’ll still have the necessary information available.

Read more on vaccine cards:

Sources: CDC, King 5, SF Gate, NBC 7

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