As the COVID vaccines begin rolling out, more and more people are proudly displaying their vaccination cards on their social media accounts. However, The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people about such public displays of excitement—mostly because that COVID vaccination card contains your personal information. Your social share could lead to the creation of fraudulent vaccination cards or, in a more extreme scenario, identity theft.
What Is Vaccination Card and Why Do You Need It?
A vaccination card is exactly what it sounds like — it documents that you’ve received a dose of vaccine and indicates if and when you should receive your next dose. Vaccination cards have been used for decades. Many countries require them, especially when it comes to infectious diseases like yellow fever or smallpox.
The United States is utilizing vaccination cards for COVID vaccines primarily to ensure people receive the correct dose of the vaccine at the right time. Since there are two manufacturers of the vaccine, it’s important people not only receive the same vaccine at their second dose but that they also get their second dose when they are scheduled to do so.
The cards were intentionally designed to be part of the distribution process headed by Operation Warp Speed, the defense department’s task force that’s been charged with getting vaccines to millions of Americans.
“We’ve set up everything [in] a draconian process, where when we sent out the ancillary kits which have needles and syringes, we’ve included paper cards to be filled out and … given to the individuals, reminding them of their next vaccine due date,” Army General Gustave Perna, Warp Speed’s chief operating officer stated at a press briefing.
Vaccinations will be recorded with the vaccination registries in each state. The card is currently being used as a reminder and a record, but there is a possibility it could have further applications. It’s unclear whether vaccinations may be required for travel in the future or for front-line workers or those who work in occupations that have a lot of exposure with the general public.
Keep It, But Keep It To Yourself
The vaccination card is a useful tool that ensures you have a record should you need to produce it and to remind you to receive your second dose or any subsequent boosters that may be needed. Like a lot of personal information that’s made public, if your card falls into the wrong hands there could be long-lasting repercussions.
The card includes your name, birthday, and address — all of which can be used to open a credit card or create other fraudulent accounts in your name. Beyond that, there have been reports of counterfeit vaccination cards being created and sold by those who anticipate them being required to work or travel freely.
It’s recommended that you keep your card, but keep it private like you would any other personal information. In the event that you lose your card, you can contact your local health department to receive another one.
If you do want to share your vaccination story, the BBB recommends using a generic sticker or frame on your social media posts. This denotes that you’ve received the vaccine without divulging any of your personal information (as seen in the top image). If you’ve already posted your card, the BBB recommends you delete the post and then check the privacy settings on your social media accounts for good measure.
The excitement about vaccination is understandable, but don’t let it compromise the safety of your personal information.