Here’s how easy it is to present proof of vaccination in San Francisco

Nov 16, 2021

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In July, the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance announced it would require proof of vaccination — or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours — in order to dine indoors. Patrons who chose to dine outdoors were not subject to the new requirement.

Just a month later, the city of San Francisco mandated proof of vaccination for anyone 12 years of age and older to go into restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms and more. Negative COVID-19 test results were no longer sufficient.

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When this news was first announced, I was curious how the city planned to streamline the process of showing proof of vaccination, especially with reports that people were creating fake cards or losing their CDC cards altogether. Plus, with vaccines being distributed at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospitals, would it be feasible to track all the information digitally?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the process to present proof of vaccination in San Francisco — and elsewhere in California, if necessary — is actually very easy. Here’s how.

Trolley car in San Francisco
(Photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images)

For California residents

For both California residents as well as out-of-state visitors, it’s sufficient to present your paper CDC vaccination card and your ID to show proof of vaccination. But for California residents, there’s an even simpler way to show proof of vaccination: with a QR code you can get from the state of California through this website.

The website asks for your full name, date of birth and email or phone number. Then you create a four-digit PIN that you’ll enter into the link sent to your phone or email for verification purposes. Once you’ve verified your details with the PIN, you’ll be taken to a page with your QR code and vaccination details.

Note that this QR code could take two to three weeks to come through if there are any issues with your digital record. But you can also upload a photo of your CDC card to modify your record manually.

I personally forgot our CDC cards for our recent staycation in San Francisco and figured we’d have to order takeout and eat in our hotel room for the weekend. But my husband was able to get our QR codes instantly by entering our details into the website.

Related: Los Angeles expands vaccination requirement for restaurants, bars and other indoor spaces

For out-of-state and international visitors

Though the digital COVID-19 vaccine record through the state isn’t available for residents of other states or international visitors, hope is not lost.

Proof of vaccination and a photo ID are all you need to show to be granted indoor admission to bars, restaurants, clubs, gyms and other indoor spaces and events. San Francisco currently only accepts verification of World Health Organization-approved vaccines from international visitors.

Doctor writing COVID-19 vaccination record card after vaccination on patient.
(Photo by ArtistGNDphotography/Getty Images)

Presenting proof of vaccination

It was so easy to present proof of vaccination when eating out in San Francisco.

We visited two restaurants but only one asked for our ID to compare with our QR code details. It was quick and painless, and it felt good to dine indoors at a restaurant again knowing that everyone else there was vaccinated (except for kids not yet old enough to be vaccinated).

Dining with children

Speaking of kids, my toddlers aren’t old enough to get the vaccine yet, though we’re getting closer to their age group now that 5- to 11-year-olds are eligible to receive the vaccine. Because children under 5 are currently ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, no proof of vaccination was required for them and they were allowed to dine indoors with us.

A beautiful view of the Bay Bridge from the street.
(Photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images)

Bottom line

Presenting proof of vaccination is simple whether you’re a resident of California or you’re an out-of-state or international visitor.

Travelers visiting from within the U.S. must present proof of vaccination through either a QR code from the state of California (California residents only) or your CDC card with proof of vaccination. San Francisco is only accepting verification from WHO-approved vaccines for international visitors.

Overall, the process for presenting proof of vaccination to enter restaurants was easy whether you’re a California resident or visiting from out of town.

Feature image by Can Balcioglu/Getty Images.

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