As the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to surge through the US, more and more businesses across the country — restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, hotels and public venues — are requiring proof of vaccination for entry.
And if you’re traveling after the holidays, carrying easily available proof of your fully vaccinated status is more important than ever. You don’t have to keep the printed version of your vaccine card in your wallet or purse, though. To avoid damaging or losing your vaccine card, we recommend storing it in your phone or using an official state phone app to record your proof of COVID vaccination.
Not sure how? We’ll show you ways you can store your vaccine card digitally — including the methods to use if you have an Android or iPhone — and help you find out whether or not your state has a specific app.
Which states are using vaccination record apps?
While some governors have signed orders banning so-called “vaccine passports,” many states have apps that allow residents to keep digital versions of their vaccine cards on their smartphones. Twelve states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, New York and Louisiana, offer SMART Health Cards that store vaccination records and COVID-19 test results.
Colorado residents, for example, can download the myColorado app: After you create an account, verify your identity and add a digital version of your driver’s license to your phone, you can then add your myVaccine record to the app. Louisiana’s LA Wallet app takes a similar approach, allowing you to add your driver’s license and proof of vaccination to your phone.
California requires residents to fill out a form to verify their identity, after which they’ll receive a text or email with a link to a QR code that can be saved to their phone. When scanned, the code will offer proof of vaccination. The link will also include a digital copy of your vaccination record.
Illinois residents can use VaxVerify, which uses Experian for identity verification.
MyIR Mobile is used by several health departments, including Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, Washington state, West Virginia and Washington, DC. Both Washington state and Washington, DC, recently added the ability for residents to self-report positive results for at-home COVID test kits.
Delaware, New Mexico and Michigan are also using web portals to let residents access their vaccination status online.
New Yorkers have two app options: The Excelsior Pass app and NYC Covid Safe.
We’ll continue to update this feature as more states offer apps and features to store your COVID-19 vaccine card online. And keep in mind if you get a booster dose, you’ll need to re-upload your vaccine card.
What if my state doesn’t have an app that lets me store my card?
If your state doesn’t have an iPhone or Android app that lets you store a copy of your vaccination record, there are other ways to keep it on your phone. What qualifies as valid proof, however, can vary by state, city, county or business.
Some places may accept a photo of your physical vaccination card: For example, concert producer AEG Presents accepts a “physical copy of a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a digital copy of such card or such other proof as is permitted locally.” But you definitely want to research first if your city, county or state does the same.
Along with public school mandates, hundreds of private colleges are also requiring students and employees to be vaccinated: Seattle University, which requires students to be vaccinated to attend in-person classes, offers an online form to upload photos of the front and back of your vaccination card.
When in doubt, look for information on the business’s website or call the local health department and ask for clarification. This is bound to save you time and the risk of being turned away at the door.
Can I store my card with Google Pay or Apple Wallet?
If you have an iPhone ($350 at Amazon), you can store your COVID-19 vaccine card on Apple Wallet to present whenever you need to show you’re fully vaccinated. (You can keep a copy in the Health app, too.) The WatchOS 8.1 update allows you to keep your card handy on your Apple Watch.
If you have an Android, you can add your vaccine card to the Google Pay app and even add a shortcut icon to your home screen to find it quickly.
Samsung Pay can also store your vaccine record
Samsung now gives Galaxy phone owners the option to add proof of vaccination to Samsung Pay. You’ll need to download the CommonHealth app (Samsung’s partner) from the Google Play Store and follow the prompts in the app to verify your vaccination status.
Once the app confirms you’ve indeed gotten the jabs, you’ll be prompted to download a Smart Health Card to Samsung Pay that you can show to anyone requesting you show proof of vaccination. It beats having to fiddle around with photo albums and tapping through multiple screens before you’re able to show it to a bouncer or maître d’.
Will a picture of my vaccine card work?
The simplest way to have a digital record of your vaccine status is to snap a photograph of your vaccination card and keep it on your phone. Even the CDC recommends keeping a picture of your card as a backup copy.
You can make the photo a favorite to quickly locate it or store it in a notes app, a folder or somewhere easy to remember. Make sure you’re in a well-lit area and get close enough to the card that the dates and other details are legible. Put the card on a dark surface and try to eliminate shadows from your arms or the phone itself.
Here’s one way iPhone users can save their vaccination card as a new photo album: Open the Photos app, select the Albums tab and then tap the plus (+) sign in the top-left corner followed by New Album. Give the album a name and then tap Save. Next, select the photos of your card to add them to the album.
On an Android, it depends on which app you’re using, but the process should generally be the same. If you’re using the Google Photos app, open the app and then select the picture of your vaccination card. Tap the three-dot menu button in the top-right corner, followed by the Add to Album button. Select +New album and give it a name such as “Vaccination Card” and tap the checkmark button when you’re done.
What else can I use?
I’ve had a large number of readers reach out to me about this article, each one offering advice and guidance about storing a proof of vaccination card.
One popular suggestion is the well-known airport security service Clear. In fact, some concert and exhibition halls require that attendees use Clear to verify their vaccination status to attend a show. You can go to clearme.com/healthpass to download the app and get your card added.
VaxYes is another service that verifies your vaccination status and then adds your vaccination card to your Apple Wallet. I’ve read that you can add your card to the Google Pay app, but after signing up and going through the process myself, I don’t see the option on a Pixel 5 running Android 12.
If your local municipality or employer uses the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System, then you can use the VAMS website to access your vaccination records. I’ve had more than one reader reach out to me about using this system to show proof of vaccination, but without an account myself, I’m unable to go through the process of accessing a vaccination record.
Another suggestion I received from multiple readers is to use a scanner app on your phone and store a scanned copy of your vaccination card in something like your OneDrive personal vault or a password manager (almost all of them offer some sort of secure file storage) instead of storing the photo in Google Photos or Apple’s iCloud photos. On an iPhone, you can use the scanner that’s built into the Notes app. On Android, Google’s Stack PDF scanner will be enough to get the job done.
This story will be updated as the national vaccine conversation continues. For more information about the booster shots from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, make sure to read this primer.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.