The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is phasing out its COVID-19 vaccination cards, according to an Oct. 4 update on the agency’s website.
Considered a controversial relic of the pandemic era, the white cards once determined who could and could not participate in society, such as by barring or allowing entry to businesses, schools, and workplaces, based on whether someone had received the COVID-19 jab or not.
Now, the CDC has stopped printing the cards because the federal government is no longer in charge of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Since the height of pandemic restrictions in late 2020 and up to May 10, the federal government had sent out more than 980 million cards, according to the CDC.
“CDC no longer distributes the white CDC COVID-19 Vaccination cards and does not maintain vaccination records,” the CDC states in its updated frequently asked questions. “Contact your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS). Your state’s IIS cannot issue you a vaccination card, but they can provide a digital or paper copy of your full vaccination record, including your COVID-19 vaccinations.”
However, the days are largely over when you would need to keep your white vaccination card tucked into your wallet or purse if you wanted to attend a festival, bar, or restaurant.
Similar requirements became commonplace and controversial around the world, prompting criticism in some places of a two-tiered economy.
With their necessity now a thing of the past, federal and local health officials don’t expect the discontinuation of the cards to be a particularly big change.
In 2021, after President Joe Biden announced vaccine mandates, the ubiquitous white cards spawned a black market industry, leading U.S. authorities to declare such actions illegal. New York even made faking a jab card a Class D felony in December 2021, with violators of the new state laws facing anywhere from probation up to seven years in prison.
That year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation stated that buying, selling, or using counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards was a crime, and violators would face a fine and up to five years in prison. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also blocked shipments of fake cards coming from China.
In a recent case, a former Chicago pharmacist was found guilty in federal court for stealing and selling authentic COVID-19 vaccination cards on eBay in June.
What’s in Store for Proof of Vaccination?
The cards will remain valid as proof of vaccination. But going forward, people will need to request their immunization records from the health department, a clinic, or a pharmacy as they would for any other vaccine.
Heidi Gurov, a nurse consultant at the Wyoming Department of Health, advises people to treat their vaccination cards like any other important health record and recommends keeping them in a “safe spot.”
Across the nation, states and certain cities maintain immunization registries, but the procedures for record inclusion and access can vary. Notably, immunization records from the mass vaccination efforts during the early pandemic days are typically stored in these registries, depending on the particular state’s regulations. There is no unified, nationwide immunization record registry in place.
States vary in their approach to immunization records. For example, in Texas, patient consent is required, while places like Wyoming and Philadelphia have providers log vaccinations. Many states offer digital records through apps or websites, allowing users to save certificates or QR codes as proof of vaccination, with some providing tracking and reminders for future doses.
“One of the positives (during the pandemic) was having increased autonomy on your patient record, especially the immunization record,” said Jeff Chorath, who manages the immunization information system in Washington state.
Those who’ve lost their vaccination card can usually request their immunization record from where they got their shot or through their state’s registry. Some states also offer digital vaccination cards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times