Laminating your vaccination card? That won’t be necessary

It’s understandable that once you get your COVID-19 vaccination card, you’d want to come up with ways to preserve it. And if stores are offering to laminate it for free, then why not?

On the other hand, you may have also started hearing warnings from people who say laminating your card will prevent you from being able to mark any booster shots you might need in the future. But that, too, probably isn’t as big a deal as you might think right now.

In short, worrying about preserving your card probably just isn’t necessary.

“I don’t think it makes a difference one way or another,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior health scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and an infectious disease, critical care and emergency medicine physician. “They’re not really being used in that manner, that they need to keep them laminated.”

Unless you’re traveling internationally, he said, you probably won’t need to carry your card around with you.

“You might see some businesses that might want to use those things, but I think it’s likely to be an app or some sort of better or more convenient way than having to carry that flimsy card around,” Adalja said.

“These are not official legal documents or anything like that,” he added, noting that at least Yellow Fever vaccination cards are issued by the World Health Organization. “I don’t think people are going to have to have it updated like a punch card where they put boosters on it, even if it comes to the point where boosters are needed.”

Instead, he said, as the rest of the world’s population becomes more vaccinated, these cards will become just another temporary reminder of the crazy times we’ve had to live in.

“This is going to go away as the world gets more vaccinated,” Adalja said. “There’s a lot of concerns and a lot of questions and I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal what’s going on with the COVID vaccine cards. They’re not something the U.S. government is really going to use as some type of tracking.”

If that were to change, wherever you went for your vaccination — be it a state or local government vaccination site, or one of the private companies that partnered with the federal government such as CVS or Walgreens — will also have a record of your vaccination.

Besides, every state in the country also has an immunization registry that keeps track of all the vaccines you’ve gotten since you were a child — everything from COVID-19 to measles.

“The state has always known,” he said. “I just think the general public has no idea that this was occurring and it’s not a big deal. It’s important to know these numbers when you’re thinking about how you’re dealing with infectious disease emergencies.”

That said, if you really worry about keeping your card safe, you can go online to sites such as Amazon and Etsy are among the many) to buy plastic sleeves that will do the trick, and still allow you to remove your card whenever you might need to.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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