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Should you laminate your CDC COVID-19 vaccine card?

March 31, 2021
5 min read
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Now that millions of Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States, people everywhere are wondering what they should do with their vaccine cards.

Right now, the only way to confirm a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19 is with a physical paper card from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So, Americans are finding creative ways to protect their vaccine cards, from stowing them inside a safe to making digital copies.

Some stores have even offered to laminate vaccine cards for free -- but should you?

It depends on who you ask, really, because no agency has given a definitive answer.

TPG reached out to the CDC, who referred questions about vaccine cards and travel to the White House, who referred questions about vaccine cards and travel to the CDC. The CDC has taken the lead on the distribution of the vaccine cards, while the response to the pandemic is led by the White House COVID-19 Response Team. We’ll update this story if either respond.

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Can you laminate your CDC vaccine card?

(Photo by ArtistGNDphotography/Getty Images)

Certain destinations, tour operators and travel providers may require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, or accept proof of vaccination as an alternative to strict testing and quarantine requirements.

Streamlining those processes is something the travel industry has been working on in the form of digital vaccine passports. You may not have to travel with your vaccine card in the future if you’re using a digital health app or vaccine passport. Many are still in development, so you’ll have to keep your vaccine card safe in the meantime.

Staples, Office Depot and Office Max will laminate your vaccine card for free, according to CNN. The Staples offer doesn’t have an expiration date, but the Office Depot offer is available through July 25, 2021, and you must bring a coupon to be eligible.

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Many travelers TPG spoke to said they’d either laminated their cards or considered doing so. The CDC didn’t directly answer a TPG reporter’s question about whether people should laminate their COVID-19 vaccine cards, so there’s no guidance from the federal government right now.

However, several travelers who reached out to TPG said they were either warned against laminating or irreparably damaged their cards after laminating. Travelers reported the stickers on their cards with vaccine information were thermal-sensitive and turned black after laminating.

It's still unclear, however, whether people will need booster shots in the future, so some travelers are wary of laminating their cards.

“I'm not laminating [my card] in case they need to add a booster dose to it,” Michele LaFevre said in TPG's Facebook group.

Instead, you might want to consider using a clear badge if you’re worried about your card getting damaged, as one TPG reader suggested.

“[My card is] in a plastic badge holder, and stored in our safe with our passports and other important documents,” said Faith Dowgin. “We also scanned them and took [pictures].”

Related: 3 things to know about your CDC vaccine card

Keep your vaccine card safe

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination record card with masks, Minnesota. (Photo by: Michael Siluk/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

No matter what, you don’t want to lose or damage your vaccination card.

That means you should treat it like you would your credit cards, driver’s license or passport. You should store it in a secure location, like a safe or a desk drawer, at all times. A friend of mine needed to have her vaccine card replaced after it got wet in her wallet, so if you plan to keep it on your person, make sure it doesn’t get damp or bent.

The CDC recommends that vaccine administrators record vaccine information in a patient’s medical record. All COVID-19 vaccination providers are required to report data within 72 hours in their state’s immunization system.

So, there will likely be a back-up record of your vaccination status in the event you do lose your card.

Related: You finally got vaccinated: Here’s what you’ll need for a digital health passport

Bottom line

There’s been very little guidance about what people should do with their CDC COVID-19 vaccine cards after being inoculated. While it’s unclear, right now, whether travelers should laminate their cards, your best bet for keeping your card safe is to store it in a secure location until you absolutely need to use it.

Featured image by MediaNews Group via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023