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Health Officials Address What To Do If You Lose Your Vaccination Card

November 17, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck
Chief Hospital Corpsman Dustin Winnon on USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) stamps a COVID-19 vaccination card.

WASHINGTON —Many public health departments across the country are experiencing increasing calls from individuals who have lost their vaccination cards and are seeking a replacement.

“Our department receives, on average, 60 requests for replacement vaccination cards each week. This number has remained steady for the last few months,” said Jenny Steventon, assistant health director from Nebraska’s Sarpy/Cass Health Department, in an email to The Well News.

In states like Nebraska, a centralized portal was created for residents to access immunization records. However in other states where no such portal exists the recommendation is for residents to go back to the initial site of vaccination. 

“If someone loses their vaccine card, the best thing to do is to go back to where you were vaccinated and see if one could be re-created because there is a record of who was vaccinated by that organization. Also, state health departments have immunization registries … so the card can be recreated that way,” said Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in an email to The Well News.

Recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends contacting a state health department’s immunization information system for anyone who can’t reach a vaccination site directly. 

“Each state may handle such requests differently so they can start by visiting their state health department’s website for more information,” said Julie Murphy, senior administrator for Grants and Leadership at the Immunization Action Coalition.

Many states offer electronic passports for storing vaccine information such as New York’s Excelsior pass, or the LA Wallet App in New Orleans. Nationally, there is also the option to enroll in programs used to track status after vaccination, such as the v-safe or VaxTex program. 

Although the CDC does not maintain any vaccination records the agency does recommend taking a picture of your card after your vaccination appointment as a backup copy.

“A photo can help expedite the process, but most places will have a record of who was vaccinated. If you’ve been vaccinated at multiple places, it’s best to discuss with both places the best path forward, a picture would help facilitate,” said Adalja.

The burden placed on public health departments to replace lost vaccine cards comes at a time when funds to sustain U.S. public health operations are at their lowest.

Since 2008, at least 38,000 state and local public health jobs have disappeared. Spending for state public health departments dropped by 16% per capita and for local health departments by 18% per capita since 2010, according to data presented by Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., during a June hearing on strengthening the public health infrastructure. 

“Our hollowed out public health system explains why we see COVID-19 cases tracked using fax machines and COVID-19 vaccines recorded on little white paper cards. These antiquated methods are embarrassing for our country. Our disarrayed data collection has broader consequences for so many Americans… as the common maxim goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” said Eshoo.

Alexa can be reached at [email protected] 

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