How to Put a Vaccine Card on Your Phone

Oh good, you’re vaccinated against Covid-19. Now all you gotta do is prove it.

Many businesses, employers, and venues issued mandates for vaccines against Covid-19, which means you’ll need proof of vaccination to get in the door. In the US, those slightly-too-big-for-your-wallet paper cards are the main official record that someone has been vaccinated. They can be a pain to carry around, and are just as easy to lose as anything else that’s jangling around in your pockets. Fortunately, there are ways to digitize them. Usually.

While places like the European Union offer official digital vaccine certificates to all citizens, the US is a bit more … complicated. Here’s how to go about it.

Safety First

As with any kind of personal information, you should consider the potential risk of dumping your deets online. Last year, Apple said that it was developing features to let users store their driver’s licenses and state IDs in Apple Wallet. The move drew some concern from security experts, who pointed out that even if Apple itself can’t access the files, hackers or overzealous law enforcement agents could. In some cases, using Google or Apple Wallet might be a good idea. (They’re more secure than your credit card, anyway.) Still, keep in mind that contactless pay services can be hacked, and it’s possible the same could happen to your vaccine card.

Get Official

The first thing you’ll need is an official digital record of your vaccine information. This can come from government websites, your health care provider, or the place where you received your shot.

Depending on where you live, getting records from the government might be tricky. A few states make it easy and offer access to digital records via SMART Health Cards. Right now, this is the case in California, Louisiana, Hawaii, parts of Maryland, and Colorado. They’re also available in parts of Canada. Here’s everywhere that uses SMART cards.

Other states may not be so straightforward, and some governors have outright banned digital Covid vaccine records in the name of “medical freedom.” You’ll have to check with your state’s official resource websites.

If you received a vaccine from your usual health care provider, you might be able to get information through them as well. Depending on where you got vaccinated, it’s possible that the company itself can digitize your vax card. You can generate digital vaccine records with Walmart, Sam’s Club, Rite Aid, and Express Scripts. All will require that you have accounts and log in to them.

Once you have your virtual vaccine card, you can just leave it on your device and pull it up whenever you need to. To make the process even smoother, you can add it to your phone’s wireless payment app for near-instant access. Here’s how…

Apple Health/Wallet

Photograph: Apple

One of the features added by Apple in iOS 15 for the Health app enabled users to save and share medical records, including their Covid vaccine status, with other health care providers. You can also save the card in Apple Wallet, which will let you be ready well before the burly bouncer at your local tiki bar starts glaring at you.

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