Congratulations: you stride out of your COVID-19 vaccine appointment with nothing but a sore arm and a small, white notecard that doesn’t exactly fit easily into a wallet. And so, you might wonder, what should you do with that card?
We talked with an immunization expert and reviewed federal guidelines to find out just that.
Stow it safely
The card, which documents that you’ve received all necessary doses of the vaccine as well as when and where you got them, should be kept in a safe place. You should also take a picture of the card so you can have a digital copy of the card in case you lose it.
Matt Bobo, immunization program manager for the state, keeps his card on the refrigerator and said he took a picture after both the first and second doses.
If you lose it
If you forget a picture and do end up losing the card, you can still access your vaccination records. That’s because all COVID-19 vaccines get reported into a central system, which means if you reach out to the vaccine provider, you should be able to get a copy of the record.
Those records show up within 72 hours of a jab, and Bobo said they get added after first and second doses, in case a card gets lost between vaccinations. If that does happen, the record can also help figure out when you’re due for the next dose.
Should I laminate it?
It’s not clear yet whether the vaccines, authorized for emergency use by the federal Food and Drug Administration, will need booster shots akin to a chicken pox vaccine. Laminating the card might make it difficult to add a record of additional doses to it in the future. But laminating or not really comes down to personal preference, Bobo said.
Will I need it for travel?
While the federal government has not released any sort of guidance or requirements on showing vaccination cards for travel, officials in the Biden administration are working to standardize a credential system for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated, the Washington Post reported last week.
In the meantime, being fully vaccinated could come in handy in a few spots around Alaska. For instance, the city of Dillingham — which has a pre-travel testing and arrival quarantine requirement for incoming travelers — recently updated their emergency order to allow for fully vaccinated travelers to skip both, according to Gregg Brelsford, interim city manager for the city that draws thousands of fishermen from all over each summer.
And a vaccination card may get you on some Alaska cruise ship sailings this summer.
But, one place a vaccine card currently won’t help Alaskans is at the border with Canada. Foreigners are still barred from crossing into Canada for “an optional or discretionary purpose,” Rebecca Purdy, a spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency said by email Tuesday.
In order to enter Canada, foreigners like Americans must be asymptomatic of COVID-19, be traveling for a non-discretionary reason and comply with testing and quarantine requirements.
“At this time, providing proof of receiving the vaccine does not replace the pre-arrival testing requirement,” Purdy said.
A spokesman for the Alaska governor’s office did not respond to emailed questions Tuesday about whether the state was considering requiring incoming travelers to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival in the state.
So, while it’s not clear exactly where a vaccination card might get Alaskans in the future, it’s important to stow yours away safely, save for use on the occasional free doughnut if you feel so inclined.