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March 26, 2021

Keep your COVID-19 vaccination card in a safe place — you may need it later

Proof of immunization may come in handy when trying to resume pre-pandemic life, some experts say

Your COVID-19 vaccination card may be your gold ticket back to your pre-pandemic life — so don't lose it.

When people get vaccinated — 26.3% of Americans have received at least one dose — they are handed a COVID-19 vaccination card containing their first and last names, date of birth, the vaccine developer, and the dates the doses were administered.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses for full immunity against the coronavirus. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one. 

These vaccination cards are important for several reasons, health experts say. They simplify the vaccination process, helping people keep track of the vaccine they received and whether they still need a second dose. They also may simplify the process of getting booster shots, if they become necessary. 

And as more of the country and the world opens back up, proof of immunization also may become necessary to travel, attend concerts and resume other pre-pandemic activities, some scientists speculate.

"What these little cards have the potential to do is to make something like international travel easier by avoiding requirements for quarantine or testing," Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told ABC News.

Proof of immunization is not a new concept. Parents of school-age children must provide schools with a copies of their children's immunization records. In some countries, proof of yellow fever vaccination is necessary for entry.

Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician at Northeast Ohio Medical University, told Prevention that the cards might be especially useful for workers who interact with the public, such as health care providers, restaurant staff and teachers.

Right now, proof of immunization isn't widely needed for work, travel or entertainment purposes. But that could change.

However, some airlines, including British Airways and Ryanair Holdings PLC, are offering passengers ways to provide vaccination information and COVID-19 test results during the booking of their trips, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Other airlines, like United and Jetblue, are exploring apps that will make verifying passengers are COVID-19-free before they board easier.

In June, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises will require COVID-19 vaccines for all adult passengers and crew members on cruises to the Caribbean. Passengers under 18 will need a recent negative COVID-19 test.

No decisions have been made about cruises returning to U.S. waters yet, according to a company spokesperson who spoke to USAToday.

Many schools also may require students provide proof of immunization. Rutgers University has become one of the first schools to require all students get vaccinated before returning for the 2021 semester.

Federal government officials have suggested people take a photo of their vaccination cards or keep them in their wallets to ensure they don't misplace them. Storing them with important documents, like birth certificates and social security cards, is another safe option.

But people shouldn't panic if they lose their vaccination cards. There are ways to replace them. The facility where they were vaccinated should have a record of their immunizations. So should their state health department. 

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