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In the land of lost things, where the single black sock once reigned supreme, the COVID-19 vaccination card is making a push for preeminence. Too flimsy to ride solo in jean pockets, too large to fit in most wallets, the card floats precariously in backpacks, glove boxes and handbags until, all too often, it mysteriously disappears.
This summer, the card was a golden ticket for admission to Lollapalooza, and with the rise of the Delta variant, scores of offices and universities across the country are following suit. Google, Facebook, Delta Air Lines, Goldman Sachs, Walgreens and many other businesses have instituted sweeping new policies requiring that some or all of their employees show proof of vaccination. Many colleges also have adopted vaccine mandates for students and faculty, including Northwestern University.
If you’ve been vaccinated locally, the process of getting a replacement card is fairly simple. Ike Ogbo, Director of Evanston’s Health & Human Services Department, recommends individuals begin by keeping their cards at home in a safe place and making a print copy or digital photo to carry with them. Should a loss occur, Health & Human Services can provide a replacement card to be picked up or mailed to the community member by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Vax Verify system, launched on Aug. 11 by the Illinois Department of Public Health, offers another option to obtain proof of vaccination, according to Ogbo. The system allows Illinois residents 18 years and older to access their vaccination records through the portal.
All vaccines administered in Illinois are entered into the Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange (I-CARE), and Vax Verify provides direct access to those records after users complete an identity verification process. Individuals may then share that information with anyone they wish to receive it, including employers, schools or medical professionals.
If you have received your vaccine out of state, getting a replacement card may be a little more complicated. For proof of vaccination, you’ll need to contact the vaccine provider directly, if possible, or the health department of the state where you were vaccinated.
Jack Suvari, a 21-year-old college student from Evanston who attends the University of Colorado in Boulder, learned first hand how it is done. He received his first vaccine dose along with the CDC card at school in April, but the card didn’t make it back to Evanston with him in May. “Between me coming home and packing up everything I somehow misplaced my initial card,” he said.
Suvari was leaving for a study abroad trip to Iceland and needed to be fully vaccinated for travel. After attempting unsuccessfully to get a second dose without the card, he contacted the Colorado Department of Public Health. “I requested my vaccination history from them and then I printed that out for my second appointment at Fleetwood-Jourdain.”
With the official documentation in hand, Suvari says he was able to receive his second dose at the clinic as well as a brand new card, a picture of which he keeps safely on his phone.