After nabbing an appointment and getting that first COVID-19 vaccine, it’s natural to feel excited. Many people have taken to social media to share their joy, which is generally encouraged. Messages of positivity can help inspire others to get vaccinated as soon as the opportunity arises, promoting a tool that experts say is essential for halting the pandemic.
But be warned: Do not include your vaccination card in photos or videos that you share publicly.
“Unfortunately, your card has your full name and birthday on it, as well as information about where you got your vaccine,” said the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in a news release. “If your social media privacy settings aren’t set high, you may be giving valuable information away for anyone to use.”
After your vaccination, your provider will give you a vaccination card or printout that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cards are printed in English and Spanish and are intended to help you keep track of both of your vaccine doses. Because it also includes personal identifiable information, it’s important to refrain from showcasing it on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or any other social platform.
Posting photos of your vaccination card also makes it easier for scammers to create counterfeit versions that they can sell. Scammers in Great Britain were caught selling fake vaccination cards on eBay and TikTok, and it’s only a matter of time before similar cons come to the U.S. and Canada, said the BBB. Scammers are playing off of concerns that you might eventually need a vaccination card to get into places like bars and entertainment venues.
There is currently no nationwide or global immunity passport — a certificate that would show your vaccine status and allow you to return to activities like international travel. Research is being carried out on the scientific and ethical considerations of immunity passports, which, if created, could take forms ranging from a smartphone app to a wristband to a physical card. You can think of it as being like a Yellow Card, a signed and stamped card received after getting vaccinated for yellow fever. That card is required for travel to some parts of the world. (See the World Health Organization’s list of countries here.)
If we do end up using an immunity passport, it won’t be your current COVID-19 vaccination card. “The Department of Health does not have any plans to use the [vaccination] card for [other] purposes moving forward,” said a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
And in fact, if your vaccination card accidentally ends up in the trash, it’s OK. The provider who vaccinated you will also have an electronic record, and you can contact your provider if needed.
As for sharing your vaccine enthusiasm with the world, there are plenty of other, safer ways to do so that don’t involve your vaccine card.
“Take a picture outside of the site next to the sign or with a sticker received after receiving the vaccine,” said a spokesperson from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.
There’s a library of vaccine-related Instagram GIFs and Facebook photo frames to add to your excitement, too.