Everyone who gets vaccinated for COVID-19 in the U.S. receives a vaccine card. Sarah Lynch, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Binghamton University, State University of New York, offers insight into why vaccine cards are important and why you should hold onto yours.

1. The cards serve as proof of inoculation against COVID-19. 

Most clinics and pharmacies that administer any type of vaccine will provide some sort of documentation, and this card standardizes that process. The cards include the most important information about the vaccine, as well as the date and site where the doses were administered, and appointment dates for second doses – so they serve as a handy and efficient way for sites to share information with individuals coming in for their vaccine. 

2. The cards contain important information about you and the vaccine you received.

The cards include personal information, such as name, date of birth, and medical record number (if applicable). But they also include important information about the vaccine administered – the manufacturer (Moderna, Pfizer, Janssen), the date administered, and the vaccination site. It also includes specific information about the specific shot you were given, like the lot number. This is important if an adverse event occurs and needs to be reported, because in rare instances these may be tied to a specific lot number. There is also a spot on the card to place the date of the second appointment, which helps with the scheduling logistics associated with the two dose mRNA vaccines. 

3. They’re a good reminder.

In the short term, the cards provide us with a reminder of a second appointment for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. They also remind us of the dates administered, which will become especially important if it turns out that booster vaccines are needed at a certain point.

4. In the long term, the cards may serve to gain access to events and travel. 

It can be compared to the vaccine requirements many colleges have for students and medical centers have for employees, where individuals must submit documentation of vaccination or antibody titers to certain infectious diseases. 

5. You should take good care of your card.

Laminating can help keep the card in good condition. Certain office supply stores are laminating COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards for free. It is also recommended to scan a copy of the card for your own files, as a backup. Taking a picture of the front and back and saving it on a mobile device will mean that most people will have the card information on them at all times. Finally, some states are rolling out digital vaccine passport applications. These will allow the card information to be logged in a digital app that can be easily accessed on a mobile device and shared at events where documentation is required, eliminating the need to carry around the physical card. 

6. If you lose your card, return to the site where you received the vaccination.

Those sites have records of all the information on the card and should be able to issue you a new card.