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Covid vaccine cards are a reminder for the 2nd shot, not a passport

The cards are part of vaccination kits developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and Operation Warp Speed.
A Covid-19 vaccine record card.
A Covid-19 vaccine record card. EJ Hersom / Department of Defense

With at least two of the Covid-19 vaccine candidates requiring multiple doses, health officials have developed an old school way to help Americans keep track of their vaccine schedule: paper cards.

The cards are part of vaccination kits developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and Operation Warp Speed and will be sent to medical providers and pharmacies. The kits also include syringes and needles, a surgical mask and a face shield. The record card, written in English and Spanish, lists medical information about the vaccine given, the date it was administered and by whom. The cards are intended to fit into a wallet as a reminder when the second shot is due.

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence told a roundtable in Memphis, Tennessee, that we are “within a matter of days of distributing tens of millions of Covid vaccinations to the American people.”

Historically, similar cards have been used to help patients and doctors keep track of vaccination schedules, although they have largely been replaced by electronic records.

“Giving the adult who got vaccinated a shot card is not a bad idea," said L.J. Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, a nonprofit vaccination advocacy group.

Two vaccine candidates are under review by the Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer’s vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first and Moderna’s vaccine requires a second dose 28 days after the first. Because the Pfizer and Moderna shots aren't interchangeable, people will have to make sure that the two shots they get come from the same company.

It's unclear whether the vaccine cards are intended only for people who get the Pfizer and Moderna shots. Another vaccine candidate Johnson & Johnson, which is expected to present preliminary data on its Phase 3 trials in January, will likely require one dose as opposed to two.

Not a vaccine passport

These vaccine cards are not intended to be used as a vaccine passport to get into bars, restaurants or airports.

“These are just for the person to have something to remind themselves of what vaccine they got that they can give to the provider when they come back to get their second dose,” Tan said.

There have been concerns about the two-shot vaccines and whether people would skip the second dose or get the schedule wrong, but Dr. Jason Hove, a family medicine physician at UCLA Health, says it's all about motivation.

“People are going to be motivated, it's going to be on the top of their mind,” he said. “Given the fact that we're in a pandemic and the seriousness of it, I don't know how much people will really need to be reminded about the second dose.”