How to store your vaccine record on your smartphone

If you’re like us, you got vaccinated. That’s great!

But now what do you do with that awkwardly-sized piece of paper you need to enter public venues, businesses or even your workplace? Not to mention, what happens if you lose the card? What a hassle.

Never fear: The safest and easiest way to save your vaccination record is storing it on your smartphone. In this week’s tip, we’ll show you how to keep your vaccine card safe at home and handy in your pocket.

To start, let’s go over what professionals recommend you should not do with your paper vaccination card. 

First, do not laminate it. You may need the card for your next dose or booster, so let the card breathe or purchase a plastic sleeve to keep it safe. 

Second, don’t post it to social media, since the card contains sensitive personal and health information. 

Lastly, try not to carry the card with you all the time, since you risk losing it (although your state health department should be able to provide you with a backup).

Now, here’s how you can save your vaccine record to your smartphone:

Take a photo

There are many ways to save your vaccination record to your phone. The easiest way is to use your phone’s camera app to take a photo of the card itself. The CDC recommends this method in the event you lose your card.

Make sure you place your card on a flat surface in a well-lit area. Crop the image to the four corners of the card, then save the image to your phone. You may want to consider creating an album named “Records” so you can easily access the photo when it’s time. Apple users may want to ensure the file is backed up to iCloud, while Android users can back it up to Google Drive.

Note that this is probably the least secure method of backing up your vaccination record, so if you have any concerns about your health privacy, you can skip to the next step.

iPhone users: Securely scan in Notes app

If you own an iPhone, you can also scan your vaccine card in the Notes app and securely save it so that only you can access the record. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Notes app & create a new Note.
  2. Tap the camera icon & choose Scan Documents.
  3. Position the camera over the card & your phone should automatically take the picture. If not, tap the shutter button, tap Keep Scan, then tap Save.
  4. To secure the Note, tap the three dots and choose Lock. You will need to enter a password & you can enable Touch ID or Face ID as well.

Use a passport app or service

Depending on your situation, an image of your vaccine record on your phone might not be enough or appropriate, so that’s where a dedicated app or service to store a digital vaccine record is very useful. Many states are rolling out their own vaccine passport services, and you can even save your records to your Apple Wallet and Google Pay apps.

Bear with us, because there is a little fuss involved, but it’s worth the extra few steps, especially if you’re required to show proof of vaccination status often or digitally.

To get started, you’ll need a digital version of your vaccination record. Depending on where you live, your state may already have an app. Only a handful of states currently offer these services. For example, New York State uses the Excelsior Pass, and New York City uses NYC COVID Safe (iOS & Android) while California will send you a QR code and digital copy of your vaccine record. Other states have apps or digital records available through Smart Health Cards and the CommonTrust Network, which include:

If your state doesn’t offer its own app, your health provider or pharmacy, like CVS or Walgreens, may also participate in a program like Smart Health Cards. You can see a full list here. You may need to log into your account with your pharmacy or health provider or call to request the digital vaccine record.

Still unable to obtain a digital record? You have other options to create a digital version of your vaccine record. Services like Clear and VaxYes can validate your identity and vaccination status and provide you with a digital vaccine record which you can store on your device.

Add your vaccination record to Apple Wallet 

Adding your digital vaccination record to your payment wallets on your phone makes it really easy to pull up your vaccine status quickly when you’re on the go.

Apple’s recent release of iOS 15.1 now allows iPhone users to add their vaccination records to the Health App, making it very easy to add to your Apple Wallet. If you received a QR code or downloadable record from your vaccine provider or already have a verifiable vaccine record stored in your Health App, you can add it to your wallet. Here are some detailed instructions from Apple.

Add your COVID Card to your Android device

Android users can similarly add their vaccine records to their device, but your provider will need to send you a digital record of your vaccination via QR code or downloadable record, just like Apple users. 

Make sure your device is running Android 5 or above and be Play Protect certified. Google provides very detailed instructions on adding your vaccination records to your device here.