Losing or damaging your COVID-19 vaccine card can be a nightmare, especially if you have plans to go somewhere that requires you to show proof of vaccination. So what can you do to get a replacement card as soon as possible?
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't keep vaccination status records, there are a variety of ways to retrieve your information -- even if you went to a mass vaccination site that's no longer around.
Read below to find out what to do if you lost or damaged your card. We've also got some tips for storing your vaccine status info digitally and we'll explain why it's never a good idea to buy a fake vaccine card.
How to replace your COVID vaccine card if you went to a mass vaccination site
You can probably still replace your COVID-19 vaccine record, even if you got your shot at a church or stadium or a pop-up vaccination site that's no longer around.
Contact your county state's health department: Most states have a phone number, email address and website where you can access your immunization records. You likely need to fill out an immunization request form and submit a photo ID. The process and how long it takes can vary by state.
Keep in mind that your state's health department may not have access to your COVID-19 vaccine status if you were not vaccinated by a state-approved provider. It could also be possible that your vaccine record has not been updated on your state's registry yet.
Your state may also have an online portal where you can retrieve your vaccine info, like North Carolina's COVID-19 Vaccine Portal. North Carolinians that got vaccinated by one of the state's providers and provided an email address can print their vaccine record from the portal.
Got the shot at a pharmacy? That works, too
If you got your vaccination at a pharmacy, you're in luck. Your pharmacy most likely has a record of your vaccination. At Walgreens, you can take your driver's license or ID to the pharmacy to get your vaccine record.
And you don't even need to leave your home if you use CVS. You can get proof of vaccination quickly on its website or the CVS Health app. You can also visit the pharmacy to get a new card. We suggest calling your pharmacy to ask what its protocol is if you're unsure or see if you can request your information using its website.
Check with your doctor's office
Did you get vaccinated at a doctor's office, clinic or health care facility? If so, they may have a record of your shot. If not, they'll be able to point you in the right direction.
Your doctor's office or clinic may use an app, like MyChart, that stores your proof of vaccination. Some physicians put vaccine documents and test results in the app, so it's easy to grab. But keep in mind that even if your information is available from the app, you may not be able to get a replacement card with the CDC's seal if your doctor's office doesn't offer one. However, you may be able to ask for a printed version of your vaccine record.
Red flag: It's illegal to falsify your vaccine card
Selling or purchasing a fake vaccine card -- or filling in false information -- is committing fraud. Even if you've had the vaccine, buying a fake card is considered fraud and is punishable by fines and up to five years in jail.
The US Customs and Border Protection agency regularly seizes thousands of fake vaccine cards across the country -- a good reminder to retrieve your proof of vaccination the right way.
A digital COVID-19 vaccine card is a good choice
For extra security, you can leave the paper card at home in a safe place and store your vaccination card on your phone or your Apple Watch. Samsung owners can use the CommonHealth app and Google has a way for Android phones to store vaccine info, too.
Some states -- including California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon -- let you create a digital version of your vaccination card that you can see on your phone. I recently traveled to another state and was able to use my digital vaccine card from my state to enter a restaurant there that required proof to enter. And the list of states that are providing vaccine passport apps is growing.
If you signed up for the CDC's app, V-Safe, when you first got the shot, there's some good news: The app stores your vaccine information, so it's easy to retrieve it if the white card is lost or becomes worn. The CDC gives step-by-step instructions on how to register for V-Safe.
However, you won't be able to retrieve a new vaccine card this way. The CDC does not keep extra vaccination cards if you lose your original copy.