Thursday , September 2 2021
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COVID vaccine card could be your ticket to restaurants, travel: 7 ways to store it on your phone

You may need proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter many restaurants, gyms and event venues or even the office, as the delta variant spreads. Here’s how to keep your vaccine information handy while leaving the physical card at home.

Your vaccination card is important, but it’s also easy to lose or damage.  

As the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across the US, cities, businesses and other countries are doubling down on safety protocols to help slow the spread, many of which ramp up requirements for proof of vaccination against COVID-19, or at least which may make it easier for people with proof of vaccination to enter public and private spaces.

For example, this week, the European Union removed the US from the “safe list” that allows US residents to visit without testing or quarantining. Each member country of the EU has the option to implement the safe list recommendation or not, but the announcement only drives home how important it might soon be to constantly have proof of vaccination with you at all times in case any guidance or directives change. 

The Hawaiian island of Oahu is now asking to see your vaccination card, and cities such as New York and San Francisco require proof of vaccination for many indoor activities, including dining, attending concerts, working out at the gym and entering the workplace.

That small paper card you received when you were vaccinated will suffice to prove that you’re vaccinated. But what if it’s lost, damaged or stolen? As of now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not storing your vaccination status. Across the US and the rest of the world, companies, apps and municipalities are making it easier to digitally store and display your COVID-19 vaccination card. Samsung has also joined in. 

Rather than carrying around the card — or laminating it, which prevents your health care provider from updating it with future booster shots — take a few minutes to add a digital copy of your vaccination card to your phone. Here are a few options I’ve found while researching how to safely store mine. 

Keep in mind that right now there isn’t a single national system or app to present proof of vaccination on your phone. Requirements vary, based on locale and company. While some places may accept a picture of your vaccination card, others may require you to use an app that’s been implemented at the state level. 

It’s a confusing mess, to put it mildly. I strongly urge you to take a few minutes to research what your local city or state will accept as proof as it can vary. 

For example, concert producer AEG Presents will accept a “physical copy of a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a digital copy of such card or such other proof as is permitted locally.”

Seattle University, meanwhile, requires students to be vaccinated to attend in-person classes via an online form that uploads photos of the front and back of the vaccination card. (Many other colleges are requiring students and employees to be vaccinated.)

Again, every venue, business, city and state is going to approach this differently until there is a unified standard — assuming there ever is one. 

When in doubt, look for information on the business’s website, or call the local health department and ask for clarification. This is bound to save you time, headaches and being turned away at the bar.

Snapping a picture of your vaccination card and keeping it on your phone is the quickest and easiest way to, at a minimum, have a backup copy of your card and all of the information surrounding your vaccination. The CDC even recommend keeping a picture of your card as a backup copy. 

Taking a photo of your card — front and back — is the quickest and easiest way to store it on your phone. 

Simply use the camera app on your phone to take the photo. We suggest storing this in a notes app, a folder or somewhere that’s easy to remember so you don’t have to endlessly scroll your camera roll to find it. Make sure you’re in a well-lit area and get close enough to the card that its dates and details are legible. I also suggest putting the card on a dark surface, while remaining conscious of shadows of your arms or the phone on the card itself. 

Here’s an example of one way to save your vaccination card as a new photo album. On an iPhone, open the Photos app, select the Albums tab and then tap the + sign in the top left corner followed by New Album. Give the album a name and then tap Save. Next, select the photos of your card to add it to the album. 

On an Android phone, it depends on which app you’re using, but the process should generally be the same. If you’re using the Google Photos app, open the app and then select the picture of your vaccination card. Tap the three-dot menu button in the top-right corner, followed by the Add to Album button. Select +New album and give it a name such as “Vaccination Card” and tap the checkmark button when you’re done. 

Samsung now gives Galaxy phone owners the option to add proof of vaccination to Samsung Pay, its wallet app. By having direct access to your vaccination record, you won’t have to fiddle around with creating photo albums and tapping through multiple screens before you’re able to show it to a bouncer at your local watering hole. 

Samsung Galaxy device users can store proof of vaccination in Samsung Pay by downloading the CommonHealth app.

To add your card to Samsung Pay, you’ll need to download the CommonHealth app (Samsung’s partner) from the Google Play Store. Follow the prompts in the app to verify your vaccination status. Once the app confirms you’ve indeed gotten the shots, you’ll be prompted to download a Smart Health Card to Samsung Pay. 

That card is what you’ll then show to anyone requesting you show proof of vaccination. 

Some states — including New York, Colorado and California — offer some form of digital vaccination card. The myColorado app requires you to create an account, verify your identity and then add your digital driver’s license to your phone. After you’ve done that, you can then add your myVaccine record to the app. 

Louisiana’s LA Wallet app takes a similar approach to Colorado’s, allowing you to add your driver’s license and proof of vaccination to your phone. 

California’s implementation requires you to fill out a form to verify your identity, after which you’ll receive a text message or email with a link to a QR code you can save to your phone. When scanned, the code will offer proof of vaccination. The link will also include a digital copy of your vaccination record. 

MyIR Mobile is another app used by several state health departments to provide a digital copy of your vaccination card. Currently, if you live in Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, Washington, West Virginia or Washington, DC, this is the app you’ll use. 

The Notes app on the iPhone has a built-in scanner that makes it really easy to quickly scan your vaccination card and store a copy. 

I’ve had a large number of readers reach out to me about this article, each one offering advice and guidance about storing a proof of vaccination card. 

Some suggestions include well-known airport security service Clear. In fact, some concert and exhibition halls are requiring attendees use Clear to verify their vaccination status in order to attend a show. You can go to clearme.com/healthpass to download the app and get your card added. 

VaxYes is another service that verifies your vaccination status and then adds your vaccination card to Apple Wallet. I’ve read that you can add your card to the Google Pay app, but after signing up and going through the process myself, I don’t see the option on a Pixel 5 running Android 12. 

If your local municipality or employer used the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System, then you can use the VAMS website to access your vaccination records. I had more than one reader reach out to me about using this system to show proof of vaccination, but without an account myself, I’m unable to go through the process of accessing a vaccination record. 

Another suggestion I received from multiple readers is to use a scanner app on your phone and store a scanned copy of your vaccination card in something like your OneDrive personal vault or a password manager (almost all of them offer some sort of secure file storage) instead of storing the photo in Google Photos or Apple’s iCloud photos. On an iPhone, you can use the scanner that’s built into the Notes app. On Android, Google’s Stack PDF scanner will be enough to get the job done.

This story updates as the national vaccine conversation continues. For more information about the forthcoming booster shots, make sure to read this. We have up-to-date details about the delta variant, as well as delta plus and the lambda variant.

This Article was first published on cnet.com

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