(WXYZ) — Andrew Cox, the head of Macomb County Health Department, carried his vaccine card in his wallet. Hakim Berry, the Chief Operating Officer of Detroit, has his stashed away with his passport in his family's "safe keepings place."
While both men have different approaches, there is an implicit understanding that these cards — handed out and marked when one receives their COVID shots — are important. On Thursday, Rutgers became the first college to announce vaccine proof as a requirement for coming back to campus. And as the world waits to see how the cards will be used in the future — jobs? travel? normal life activities? — officials are encouraging individuals to be careful with their cards.
"Not knowing means I’ll hold on to it and hold on to it as treasure," said Berry.
But while it’s clear proof of vaccination is important, officials say you don’t need to stress if you lose it. Local health departments, healthcare providers, and pharmacies all have access to the Michigan Immunization Record, a registry with the vaccine records of all in the state.
"Not to worry about that, we have the ability to look up that record," said Cox. "Within 24 hours from vaccination, we enter your record into that database."
So, proof that you’ve been vaccinated can be easy to find. But getting a new card may be trickier.
"We don’t have extra vaccine cards, so — with each kit of the vaccine comes the same allotment of vaccine cards," said Berry, explaining that a new card would have to be ordered from the CDC. A hassle — somewhat like losing one's passport — which is why people are being encouraged to take care of their cards.
From now until May 1, Staples stores all across the country are offering to laminate vaccine cards for free.
"Laminating your record card is important because it will keep it safe and durable thru what may be repeated use and over time," said Phillip Crittenden, the general manager of a Staples in Lansing.
"While I certainly don’t have any extra insight or knowledge about how we’ll use these vaccine cards in the future, I can’t see any downside in doing something that will keep them safe and make they’ll be in good condition for years to come," he continued.
And while card requirements have yet to crop up. Incentives are already here.
Through the end of the month (Mar. 31) Greenhouse of Walled Lake is offering a free pre-rolled joint to anyone 21 and up with proof of vaccination. The program, called “Pot for Shots,” has already given away over 6,000 joints.
"We always look out for patients, we have a lot of senior citizens that shop at the greenhouse in walled lake, I said you know what why not reward some of our patients for getting their shots," said Jerry Millen the CEO of Greenhouse of Walled Lake.
The bottom line is this: hold on to your vaccine card. But if you do happen to lose it? It’s a lot like losing your passport. It’s a bit of a headache to replace it, but it’s ultimately solvable.