The delta and omicron variants are here to remind us that COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. Instead, it’s ramping up.

Now, in order to protect both patrons and staff, the city has announced that all staff and patrons show proof of vaccination to dine indoors and do things like attend Sixers and Flyers games at the Wells Fargo Center.

So, in many cases, you’ll need to show your vaccination card in order to visit some indoor spaces.

At this point, your vaccination card is just as necessary as your debit card. Here’s what to do and not do with it.

Should I carry my vaccination card with me?

Not necessarily. Showing proof of vaccination may become more and more common in our day-to-day lives. But in many cases, you may be able to show a photo of your card on your phone instead of the real thing. If you’re traveling and need to show it to cross a border, however, you should have the original document with you.

But having your card on your person isn’t a bad idea unless you are prone to losing things. If you have a safe place for your card in your wallet or in your bag, it’s probably OK to carry around.

How should I protect my vaccination card?

Ultimately, treat your vaccination card like a credit card: Take care of it, know where it is at all times, and don’t share it with anyone.

Because the cards are paper, it’s possible for them to wear down over time, which may make them illegible. Make sure you’re storing your card in a way that it won’t get damaged.

There are vaccine card protectors and holders available on Amazon and Etsy to ensure the card stays protected and easily accessible.

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Should I take a photo of my vaccination card?

Yes. Taking a picture of your vaccination card is a good idea. Not only does it mean that you don’t have to carry your bulky card around with you, but you’ll also have a copy of it if it’s ever lost or accidentally left at home.

Make sure to take photos of the front and back. And don’t share the photo on social media. Your card contains personal information, which could leave you vulnerable to scams.

Should I laminate my vaccination card?

No, that’s not encouraged.

Your vaccination card will need to be updated when you get booster shots in the coming months or years, and your provider will need to access the original card in order to update it. If your card is already laminated and you need a booster shot, don’t worry — city-run vaccine clinics can place a sticker on it with your booster information when you get one, or may be able to replace the card altogether, the city notes online.

Instead, make a copy (or two) of your vaccination card, and keep it in a safe place.

What if I lose my vaccination card?

If you lose your vaccination card, it’s OK.

If you were vaccinated in Philadelphia, you can contact the city’s COVID Call Center at 215-685-5488 or email it at covid@phila.gov to get your COVID-19 immunization record. The staff at the center will “walk you through the process, verify your address, and figure out the best and quickest way to get your records to you,” said Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole at a recent press conference. You can also request your immunization records online through the city Health Department.

Folks vaccinated outside the city, meanwhile, can contact the Pennsylvania Statewide Immunization Information System (PA-SIIS) for a copy of their vaccination records. PA-SIIS is an immunization registry system operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that collects and organizes vaccine history information.

To get your records, you can email the PA-SIIS at ra-dhpasiis@pa.gov, and you will receive a form to fill out and send back in, DOH deputy press secretary Maggi Barton says. Currently, there is no defined timeline for a response, but Barton says that the DOH “will respond as soon as we can” and that the department is working on improving the process.

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What are the consequences of getting a fake vaccine card?

Faking a vaccine card is dangerous and illegal. Not only do fake vaccine cards put unvaccinated people at risk, they can cause further spread of COVID-19 in the spaces that are thought to be safe.

Beyond the health risks, getting a fake vaccine card can be punishable by law.

In a statement on Twitter, FBI Philadelphia warned that “if you make or buy a fake #COVID19 vaccination card, you endanger yourself & others — & you’re breaking the law. The FBI & our partners @HHSGov [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] are advising the public to be aware of individuals selling, or pushing the creation of, fake vaccination cards.”

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The FBI’s statement continues: “If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill-in blank vaccination record cards with false information. ... Additionally, the unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal (such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) is a crime, and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws.”

And two travelers caught crossing into Canada from the United States with fake vaccine cards were fined $20,000 Canadian dollars (nearly $16,000 U.S. dollars) each for submitting false documents.

If you haven’t already, make a plan to get vaccinated. There are many places throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey — CVS, Rite Aid, neighborhood rec centers, and more — where you can get your free COVID-19 shot. The shot is free for everyone. Find yours at phila.gov.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

Expert sources:

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