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Do you still need your COVID-19 vaccination card?

Justin Hicks
IPB News
Once a hot commodity, people may now be wondering what to do with their COVID-19 vaccination cards.

COVID-19 vaccination cards were a hot commodity as people raced to procure their initial vaccinations. The cards were often required to show proof to businesses and employers that you'd received a required immunization; sometimes they were required to gain entry to certain places or to travel.

Now that many requirements for vaccination have been dropped domestically and fewer countries are requiring proof of vaccination for travel, what should you do with that precious little slip of white card stock?

"I would probably hold on to them temporarily for this point in time because we have no idea whether things will change or whether people will want documentation of vaccination in the future," says Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cincinnati and UC Health.

He notes new variants may arise, especially in the fall, and there could be a return to people needing to prove their vaccination status. You might also need your card so vaccine providers know which vaccine(s) you've had previously.

"I think that the vaccination (card) is based on the strategy of trying to understand whether you have been vaccinated previously or not, and that sometimes determines how many vaccines we recommend an individual gets," he says. "It may be that a person may only need one additional vaccine booster because they've had an original series of vaccines, or they may need more than one booster to stimulate the kind of immunity that we think would be most protective."

RELATED: FDA will let some adults get a second boost of the bivalent COVID-19 shot

Fichtenbaum recommends storing your card somewhere safe. You should also — if you haven't already — make sure your vaccination record is up-to-date in your primary care provider's records.

"The smartest thing to do is make sure that you let your health care provider know so that it can be entered into modern electronic medical records. These records are often shareable throughout the country, and that way people's vaccinations get on record and can be shared throughout medical systems. That's another way for people to prove that they've had certain vaccinations," Fichtenbaum says.

You can also save a copy of your vaccination card to a digital wallet like Google Wallet or Apple Wallet. If you've lost your card, you can still return to the location you received your vaccination and get a replacement.

What about the kids?

Fichtenbaum recommends parents/guardians of children hang onto their COVID-19 vaccination cards and make sure those records are also on file with their primary care providers. Schools and childcare agencies may require proof of vaccination.

"We don't know going forward whether any of the vaccinations will at some point in time be required for school entry," he points out. "For example, we already know that there's a number of vaccinations that are required for school entry and it's possible that in the future that COVID vaccination could fall in that category. It's really hard to predict the future, but if COVID continues to happen all the time, and it causes some substantial illness, there may be a push in the future to make vaccination mandatory for children."

What about traveling abroad?

Many countries have stopped requiring proof of vaccination status in order to gain entry. However, Fichtenbaum — and the U.S. Department of State — recommend you check the requirements of any country you plan to travel to before departing the U.S.

"The first thing you do if you travel outside the U.S. is look at the specific restrictions of a country and whether or not vaccination cards are required or recommended. There may be some establishments in some countries that require proof of vaccination to enter. So at a minimum, people probably want to have some sort of picture or photo or card with them when they travel," says Fichtenbaum.

You can find a list of country specific COVID-19 information on the State Department's website.

RELATED: What to do if you lose your COVID-19 vaccination card

What do the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say?

WVXU reached out to the CDC for guidance on what people should or shouldn't do with their COVID-19 vaccination cards. While the agency said it wasn't able to provide an interview, it did offer some written guidance.

"The COVID-19 Vaccination Card is similar to your personal vaccination record and should be kept to ensure proof of vaccination for future health care related decisions between you and your provider. It’s important to have that discussion with your provider, and to make sure that you are up-to-date on all currently recommended vaccines. There is no national organization that maintains vaccination records. Your provider might keep these records for a period of time, however, it is a good practice to keep copies of your records just in case you need them later on," a CDC spokesperson said in a statement.

"If you’re wondering what vaccines you or your child might need, please visit cdc.gov/vaccines/parents to familiarize yourself with the Child and Adult Vaccine Schedules," the statement concluded.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.