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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 337 : Tips on securing your vaccine card (plus a minor rant)

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Today, I share some tips on securing your vaccine card plus a minor rant. More at

Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Second time's a charm (as was the first)

It seems like yesterday, or a month ago - take your pick, that I got my first vaccine shot. You can check out that experience and other random musings on episode 333.

Last Thursday, while on-air me was talking about Poshmark style tags on episode 336, everyday me was getting his second shot.

The second time was as pleasant as the first (as pleasant as a shot to the arm can be). The staff at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center are pros and I had a smooth, trouble free experience. I did my prescreen and registration online via my phone, arrived a few minutes early, checked in and was escorted by one nurse to a station where a another administered my second dose. The longest part of the experience was after the shot itself, as they make you wait 15 minutes to make sure you're ok. After that, I was on my way.

My sincerest thanks to everyone at Hopkins.

Err on the side of caution when it comes to that 4" x 3" card

Social media

If you've gotten your vaccine, you probably received a CDC card along with it, whether you got the one dose or one of the two shots. It's a record that includes important information, including the date(s) and what kind you got. While, we don't know exactly what role that card will play when it comes to proof of vaccination, right now it's the only one we have. Treat it with care.

I've noticed a lot of people posting selfies with their cards. While it's great to celebrate and encourage others to get theirs, take caution when sharing that card online. It contains a lot of sensitive information so treat it like a passport or social security card. Personally, I didn't post a selfie with the card and don't plan to. But if you do, block or cover up the private info first.

Below is a quick and easy way to do this.

  1. Take the selfie first using your camera app (not the social media one).

  2. Edit the photo in your album (native on iPhone and probably on Android too).

  3. On the iPhone, click the three dots at the top-right.

  4. Select "markup."

  5. Use the marker to block out any sensitive info.

  6. Click "Done."

  7. Your photo will be edited with the markups, which is now ready to post.

[Note: you can undo the markup edits too if need be. I'm not as familiar with Android but I imagine there are plenty of native tools or third-party apps that you can use to do the same thing.]


You may also want to get a copy of the card and keep the original at home. According to the latest news, it looks like vaccinations will be an annual thing with boosters to update against mutations, much like an annual flu shot. Thus, you'll want to hang on to the original and carry a duplicate if you need to have one with you.

First, a digital backup is not a bad idea. Scan a copy and save it on your phone, computer, external or cloud drive. Just make sure wherever you keep it, it's secure. One easy way to scan a copy is on the iPhone notes app.

  1. Open the notes app.

  2. Click the camera icon.

  3. Select "scan document."

  4. Put the card in your phone's lens viewer (you may want to use a dark background) and align the gridlines to match the edges.

  5. Snap a photo of the card - this will turn it into a scaled PDF which you can save on your notes to export or upload to a cloud.

Second, you may want to get a physical backup. Right now, Office Depot is offering customers a free laminated copy of their cards. I went to my local branch right after my second dose and it was quick and easy. It's important not to laminate the original as you will need it for additional booster records.

Finally, many states allow individuals to retrieve their vaccination records online. I recommend checking with your state's department of health website. If available, you'll need to register online and create a secure login. This should not only have your COVID vaccine record but a complete history of all of your vaccinations. Credit and thanks to the Office Depot copy person who told me about this.

Speaking of 4" x 3", what the heck is with that?

Now that we covered some do's and don'ts with the card, let me rant for the rest of this blog about the design itself. 4" x 3" is a pretty inconvenient size. It's almost as big as a note card. If this does become an official "passport" or proof of vaccination, it will be one more thing you need to carry that you can't fit into a wallet. Funny, but on a whim, I decided to do a quick Amazon search and lo and a behold, there are a ton of vaccine wallets, sleeves, and holders you can buy, along with lanyards, clips etc.

However, I think the CDC missed an opportunity here. If you look at the card, it's basically identification info, code numbers, and spaces for two stickers and some blank lines. All of this could have fit onto a driver's license-sized document. A 4" x 3" card is an awkward size and if you're carrying a laminated duplicate, that's even bigger when you account for the margins.

I got into a discussion with a friend who also got the second dose last week along with her husband and we fell into a rabbit hole rant about having to carry something that can't fit into a wallet. Below, is a stacked comparison of a business card, a standard US driver's license (which also matches other types of cards including, credit cards, gift cards, social security cards, etc.) and the mammoth CDC vaccine card.

The things you pontificate when you're home too long.

My friend mentioned that her husband was going to ask Office Depot to skip the lamination so he could fold the copy and keep it in his wallet. While a foldable version would be better than carrying around an index card, the duplicate is on thin copy paper. It's going to wear out fast, not to mention pick up wallet stains and other debris.

After that discussion, I tumbled further down the rabbit hole (poor rabbit) and into the inspiration for this week's episode. I did some number crunching that really highlighted just how inconvenient 4" x 3" is. Not only is it too big and awkward to carry (unless you wear it around your neck, keep it in a back pocket, or clip it to your waist like an ID badge), it doesn't scale down easily to match a standard wallet-sized card.

The best I could come up with is a 70% reduction. This would shrink it to 2.8" x 2.1." But remember, the copy is also laminated. As the Office Depot person explained, you have to allow a few millimeters (approx. 0.2") of margin around the edges, otherwise it will fray or peel apart. So, at 70% reduction plus 0.2" around the edges, that brings us to 3.0" x 2.3," which is about the width of driver's license with a shorter length.

A couple big disclaimers:

  1. It's unclear if a duplicate copy (even nicely laminated) will be considered sufficient proof of vaccination. It's probably fine if you want a free Krispy Kreme donut but for travel, employment purposes or university enrollment that requires it, I have no idea.

  2. Even if a copy is valid proof, I don't know if it has to be at 100% scale or if a miniature, wallet-sized version will suffice.

  3. Finally, I have no idea if Office Depot will do a 70% scaled copy as part of this promo or look at you like you're nuts if you ask.

I predict fanny packs will be making a big come back.

Interestingly, other countries that are ahead of the curve are rolling out virtual passports in the form of apps and QR codes. For more on this, check out this story on NPR. Whether we go digital or some other kind of documentation or passport remains to be seen. For now, hold on to that awkward 4" x 3" card.

Get a free laminated copy of your vaccine card

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