Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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'Having that card is important,' even after vaccination, health officials recommend keeping COVID-19 card

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BATON ROUGE - As eligibility for coronavirus vaccines continues to grow in Louisiana, more and more people will soon have one of the small, white COVID-19 vaccination cards popping up across social media.

"This pandemic has really brought a new level of conscientiousness to vaccine status," Dr. Dawn Marcelle, the Louisiana Department of Health's regional medical director for the capital area, said.

For some, the pocket-sized cards are a badge of honor, the equivalent of an 'I voted' sticker, but state health leaders say they're much more than that.

"It is an additional form of proof," Marcelle said. "I say an additional form of proof because each vaccine that is administered is entered electronically into our state record."

Unlike the state's electronic system, these cards are at our fingertips. As talk swirls of a potential 'vaccine passport' - that would essentially allow a cardholder to do some pre-pandemic things, whether it's an event or a trip - Marcelle says don't get rid of it just because you've received your shots.

"Currently, there is no regulatory use of these white cards, but there is discussion that perhaps they may be indicated for travel or participation, or attendance, at large-scale public events at some point in the future," Marcelle said.

She says it's too premature to predict what exactly these cards might end up being required for, but she cautions, they also could come into play if a COVID-19 booster shot becomes a routine or yearly thing in the future, as some experts say will be necessary as variants continue to emerge.

"If booster shots are needed, be that an annual schedule, or like the common booster shot, the tetanus booster shot every ten years, having that card is important because it gives you that date," Marcelle said. "It helps you count to know when an additional dose would be due in the future if that is what this evolves to."

While personal vaccination cards aren't very common, and with the pandemic not yet under control, Marcelle says having immediate proof of vaccination might come in handy, in both the short-term and long-term.

"We want to be prepared in every way, and [having a card] would be a part of preparation in keeping people safe and moving back into formally normal activities in life," Marcelle said.

Health officials warn against posting your vaccination card on social media, but say keeping a digital copy of the card will also work for any requirements that could be announced.


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