"It’s like any medical record whether you go to your doctor’s office wherever you go to see your appointment," said Kevin Watler, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County. "Just about everyone has a smartphone. Take a picture of it. That’s going to be one of the first things you want to do to at least have a backup copy."
Then once you get home, health officials advise treating your vaccine card like a birth certificate or social security card and keep it in a safe place.
Some office supply stores offer to laminate vaccine cards. It’s a personal choice, but USF Health virologist Dr. Michael Teng does not recommend doing it.
"Laminating, it is a problem if we have to have booster shots for example for COVID which may or may not happen. We would need to be able to add it to the card. We would need to be able to write in that you got a booster at some point," said Dr. Teng.
If the card gets lost, there’s no national database so health officials offered steps to take to get a replacement card.
"One of the things that they should do first is return back to the location where they got their vaccine at," said Watler. "However, we understand that site might not be open. It might not be there anymore. It’s not necessarily the only option. So if that ever is the situation, it’s best to contact the county health department that you got the vaccine in."
Then ask for the vaccination record and get a new card. The health department says general practitioners may have access to the statewide vaccine system, but replacements likely won't be a quick process.
So if you plan to travel in the future, public health experts said your vaccine card will likely be your ticket.
"Eventually people are going to start traveling, and they’re going to start traveling out of state. And the requirements for proof of vaccination are probably going to vary from state to state, so this might be something that you think about carrying as you travel as well," said Teng.
If you didn’t get a card when you got your shot, you can go back to the vaccine site or visit the county health department where you got the shot.