Doesn’t quite fit: Smartphone wallets provide ease of proof for COVID-19 vaccination

The issue has existed since the early days of COVID-19 vaccines — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cardboard vaccine card measuring 4 inches by 3 inches fits clumsily in a standard wallet.

It’s too big to slide into a driver’s license slot, and too long to fold in half neatly.

“That card after a while can get lost, it can get wet, it can get ruined,” said David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County, Virginia, Health Department. “Fortunately, there are other ways now that people can document their vaccination status.”

Goodfriend said the state’s site provides options for people who need a copy of their vaccination record.

“Print out a copy of it for yourself, but also get a QR code that you can take a picture of and have on your phone anytime you need documentation of your vaccination status,” Goodfriend said.

A just-released Apple mobile operating system update enables a user to add their COVID-19 vaccination information to their card’s virtual wallet. A similar feature is available for Android devices.

And although the digital option is available, in many cases, the digital option isn’t immediate. So with booster shots becoming available to millions more Americans, the already-folded-and-worn vaccine card can still come in handy.

Goodfriend said regardless of whether a person gets a vaccine or booster at a county health department, doctor’s office, pharmacy or elsewhere, the information will be communicated to the state’s vaccine registry, called VIIS. The state’s COVID-19 immunization database pulls its data from VIIS, Goodfriend said.

“It can be same day, but it may take a week or so,” Goodfriend said, which could result in a slight delay for a person checking to make sure their recent booster is reflected in the state’s database. “If they just recently got vaccinated, and it’s not yet there, just give it a couple more days.”

Goodfriend said this week is “a perfect time” to get a booster. “We want people to be as protected as possible, going into the holidays.”

“Not only do you not have to worry about it as you’re getting close to Thanksgiving, but also you won’t run into the demand for the 5-to-11-year-olds in early November,” Goodfriend said.

With the availability of COVID-19 boosters at the time of year flu vaccines are offered, Goodfriend was asked if a person should wait between shots.

“Absolutely not. Many people prefer getting both shots at the same time,” he said.

Goodfriend said getting a flu vaccination is especially important this year: “Because we didn’t have a flu season last year, with all the mitigation steps we were taking. So, easily, this could be a more severe flu season than normal, because that natural immunity people would get from year to year just isn’t present this year.”

“And, if you do get the soreness from the shots, it’ll be all over in a few days,” he reasoned.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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