The pandemic isn’t going anywhere just yet, and neither is the need to show your vaccination card.

Federal health officials announced that COVID-19 booster shots will be available starting the week of Sept. 20 for anyone who has been fully vaccinated for at least eight months.

In Pennsylvania, businesses that do not require proof of vaccination must have all patrons mask up, while some area restaurants, gyms, and event venues are requiring you to show your card.

It’s natural to want to laminate your card to protect it. Big box stores began offering free lamination services early on in the vaccine rollout. But that isn’t such a good idea.

» READ MORE: Restaurants in Philly that require proof of vaccination

Why? It can make it harder to update your card when you get a booster, or the ink can smudge and make it illegible.

If you laminated yours, what should you do? Here is what you need to know.

Do I need my vaccine card replaced if it is laminated?

Not necessarily, but it’s probably a good idea, says Pennsylvania Department of Health deputy press secretary Maggi Barton. While your vaccine card is an important document, it’s not the only record of the COVID-19 vaccination that exists.

You don’t have to get a new card, Barton says, but it’s worth contacting your vaccine provider anyway, to see if they will issue a replacement.

» READ MORE: Should you laminate your vaccination card? What if you lose it? Here are the dos and don’ts.

You may also be given a new card when you get a booster. But, at least in Philadelphia, officials “haven’t gotten guidance on if we’ll be getting new cards for when folks come in to get their boosters,” says Jim Garrow, communications director for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. So, that’s unclear right now.

Penn Medicine and Jefferson Health, which provide COVID-19 vaccinations in the area, did not immediately reply to request for comment.

How can I get my vaccine card replaced?

You can get a replacement card by contacting the pharmacy or health clinic where you were initially vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If that doesn’t work, you aren’t totally out of luck.

If you were vaccinated in Philadelphia, you can contact the city’s COVID Call Center for your full vaccination record. The COVID Call Center can be reached by phone at 215-685-5488, or by email at covid@phila.gov.

Garrow says this won’t get you a replacement vaccine card, but your vaccination record will give you proof that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, including any booster shots you may get.

People vaccinated in the rest of the state can contact the Pennsylvania Statewide Immunization Information System (PA-SIIS) to get their full vaccination record (again, not a vaccine card replacement, but still proof that you have been vaccinated). Operated by the state health department, PA-SIIS is an immunization registry system that collects and organizes vaccine information.

» READ MORE: How do I get a replacement vaccine card in Pennsylvania?

To get your records that way, you can fill out the “Authorization for Release of Immunizations Record Form” on the Department of Health website, or contact the department by phone at 877-774-4748, or by email at RA-DHVaxRecords@pa.gov.

What can I do to keep my vaccine card safe?

While laminating your vaccine card isn’t recommended, Barton says that you should keep it in a safe place along with any of your other medical records or important documents. The CDC recommends taking a photo of the card to use as a backup copy.

» READ MORE: Can businesses require you to show your vaccine card?

In many cases, you should be able to use a backup copy (like a photo) of your card to show proof of vaccination, so you don’t necessarily need to carry the original around with you. In some instances, like crossing a border when traveling, you should have the original document.

If you want a protective covering for your vaccine card, there are options on websites like Amazon and Etsy that can help keep it safe but also accessible.

Expert sources:
  • Jim Garrow, communications director for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

  • Maggi Barton, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

» READ MORE: Live your best life in Philly: Read our most useful stories here.