The verification of an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status has stirred up a lot of controversy. As it becomes more commonplace in the US, the need for access to your digital vaccination record is growing.
But how do you attain this? And why is it necessary?
In Europe, so-called “vaccine passports” are becoming mandatory in many countries. France, for example, introduced them for indoor social activities earlier this year, while Italy recently made them compulsory in the workplace.
The US seems to be following suit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now requires international travelers, including American citizens, to prove their vaccination status when entering the country – and there are feelings in Congress that the same requirements should apply to domestic air travel, according to Forbes.
Even for those with feet firmly on the ground, the need for proof of vaccination is rising. More venues within the US, including sports stadiums and theaters, are making verification of COVID-19 vaccination an entry requirement.
So how can you get yours?
SMART Health Card
All vaccinated Americans should have received a paper vaccination card from the CDC. However, this rather retro solution is easily lost or forged. Fortunately, free digital proof can be attained via the SMART Health Card, and there are a number of ways to do so.
“SMART Health Cards have emerged as the de facto standard in the U.S. for verifying COVID-19 vaccination status,” Dr Robert Wah, US Board Chair of the Commons Project Foundation, which developed the app, told Forbes. “More than 150 million people can now download or print their SMART Health Card as a QR code to manage and share their vaccination record.”
Only the individual’s name, date of birth, and vaccination record are visible – no other personal information is shared.
State health department
The first place to look for your digital proof of vaccination is the state where you were vaccinated. Every state’s health department will keep a record of its vaccinations and will be able to tell you if it’s possible to get digital proof of your own status. You can find how to contact your state’s immunization registry here.
Currently, nine states – New York, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia, and Louisiana – offer the SMART Health Card.
If your state is not among these, your county could be. Maryland, for example, doesn’t offer the SMART Health Card statewide but does in several counties through a partnership with VaccineCheck. Alternatively, if you want to pay for your digital vaccination card, you can subscribe to VaccineCheck for $24.95 a year.
Pharmacy and grocery chains
If you were vaccinated at any store branch participating in the retail pharmacy program, you may be able to obtain digital proof from them. Rite-Aid, Sam’s Club, Costco, CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens, Kroger, and Walmart are all involved in the program. To access your free vaccination record, log into the online COVID portal of the brand where you got vaccinated.
Health care provider
A digital vaccination record may also be available from your health care provider or insurance company. Major health systems and hospital groups offering SMART Health Cards include Cerner, Scripps Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, and Tenet Health. Regional healthcare groups across the country also offer it and include UCHealth in Colorado, Centra Health in Virginia, CoxHealth in Missouri, and SoutheastHEALTH in Alabama and Georgia. A list can be found here.
As for those without access to a smartphone, internet, or printer, paper copies of your SMART Health Card may be available from the above locations.
If you’re still unable to attain one, or simply don’t want to, don’t worry. All organizations should provide alternative options to prove your vaccination history.
As well as vaccination records, SMART Health Cards can also be used as a record of COVID-19 test results, which may be an acceptable alternative to a vaccine passport to some organizations.
The US remains divided on vaccine passport mandates – 10 states currently use them, while 20 states have banned them – and local regulations vary. A SMART Health Card is by no means compulsory, but is a free and easy way to verify your vaccination status should you need to.
Unfortunately, it is not universally standardized, so will not be accepted for unrestricted international travel.
If you have any further questions, they might be answered here.