Is It a Bad Idea To Laminate Your COVID-19 Vaccine Card?

As of early April 2021, more than 62 million Americans had been fully vaccinated.

  • Published
  • Updated
Injection, Airplane, Transportation
Image via Marco Verch Professional Photographer/Flickr

Claim

Vaccination recipients should not laminate their COVID-19 vaccination record cards because it could render them useless or invalid.

Rating

What's True

Although there are no federal, state, or local rules or guidelines against laminating COVID-19 vaccine cards, experts do recommend waiting to do so until one's full vaccine regimen has been completed so the record can be updated as needed (unless the card to be laminated is a copy). There have been scattered reports of lamination rendering vaccine record cards illegible.

What's False

However, claims that laminating a vaccine record card would necessarily render it useless or invalid are unfounded.

Context

OfficeMax and Office Depot have extended offers to make and laminate copies of people's COVID-19 vaccine record cards for free in their U.S. stores, through July 25, 2021. A similar offer from Staples that does not include making copies of the cards runs through May 1. Some consumers have raised questions about the advisability of laminating these cards.

Origin

As more than one year passes since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Snopes is still fighting an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation, and you can help. Find out what we’ve learned and how to inoculate yourself against COVID-19 misinformation. Read the latest fact checks about the vaccines. Submit any questionable rumors and “advice” you encounter. Become a Founding Member to help us hire more fact-checkers. And, please, follow the CDC or WHO for guidance on protecting your community from the disease.

As millions of Americans across the nation inched closer to herd immunity by receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations, three office supply companies offered to laminate vaccination record cards for free, for a limited time.

Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax offered the service to those who had received their COVID-19 vaccines, but the move had some social media users questioning whether laminating the 3-by-4-inch card would render it invalid.

Before continuing, it’s important to note that the Office Depot/OfficeMax offer includes making and laminating a copy of the card, not the original, so there’s relatively little risk in doing so. If we read the Staples offer correctly, they are not offering to make a copy but will laminate customers’ original vaccine record card for free.

As of this writing, more than 62.3 million people in the U.S. (nearly 20% of the total population) had been fully vaccinated. Each of those vaccinated is likely to have received a COVID-19 vaccination record card. But there is no official guidance on whether a card should be laminated, and Snopes reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for  clarification. On its website, the agency advises recipients to keep their vaccination card in case it is needed for future use, and to take a photo of it as a backup. Jeff Pilz, a pharmacy manager at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, recommended keeping the vaccine card in a dry storage place where other important documents are kept, such as passports or social security numbers. Laminating is an option, but not required.

These vaccination record cards serve two purposes: to remind a person to receive their second dose of the mRNA Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, and to serve as a record of proof that they received their vaccination. Every person who receives a first dose should also receive a COVID-19 vaccination card that notes the type of vaccine administered as well as the date and location that it was received, according to the CDC.

Though there is no evidence to suggest that laminating the card will render it useless, unless you’re laminating a copy there are a couple of important caveats to consider before rushing off to the store. Firstly, don’t laminate your card if you have only received the first shot of either of the two-dose regimens. Secondly, there is a chance that more shots will be required later as more data and information is gathered about the vaccines and their efficacy rates. In some cases, the vaccine provider might not be able to write additional information on a laminated card and this could cause problems in the future. There have also been reports that laminating the card could cause the ink to run, leaving text ineligible. However, we have not independently confirmed these reports. 

We note, in closing, that the record card isn’t the only proof that one has received a vaccine, and laminating a card before all of the information is recorded wouldn’t be the end of the world. If the card has been lost or damaged, officials recommend contacting the vaccination provider directly or looking the record up in the state health department’s immunization information system (found here).

If you’d like to receive a laminated copy of your card at Office Depot or OfficeMax stores, you’ll need to present this coupon code.

Recent Updates
  1. Update [April 6, 2021]: Clarified that the Office Depot and OfficeMax offers include making a copy of the card which is then laminated, not the original.
  • Published
  • Updated