The CDC’s Covid-19 vaccination card, commented

The CDC’s vaccination card is likely to be the primary proof of vaccination as the US continues to relax pandemic restrictions. Much of the information on the card is simple, but other parts, such as the vaccine lot number, point out important details that are less well known.

We have annotated an example CDC vaccination card below to better go through the details of the vaccination process.

1) The manufacturer

Three emergency Covid-19 vaccines are approved in the United States: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer and Moderna are two-dose vaccines, while J&J is one-dose.

2) The batch number and expiration date

The lot number is a series of numbers and letters that tracks that specific lot of vaccine from production to your arm. This lot number has an expiration date associated with it, which – similar to any food packaging – indicates when that lot of vaccine can begin to degrade. Pfizer and Moderna say their vaccines have a shelf life of up to six months, while Johnson & Johnson claims they are conducting ongoing studies to determine the shelf life of the vaccine. This expiry date is not relevant for how long people vaccinated against Covid-19. (That remains unclear.) Instead, the expiry date is particularly helpful for governments and vaccine providers who have to coordinate the purchase and use of large quantities of vaccines within the limited shelf life . This is likely to grow in importance in the coming months as some of the earliest vaccine doses begin to reach their expiration dates. For example, South Sudan announced it would discard 59,000 doses of the donated AstraZeneca vaccine, which expired in April.

3) The date

The date of your vaccination is important so that you know when to return for a second vaccination if necessary and when you will be “fully vaccinated”. The CDC considers individuals “fully vaccinated” two weeks after the date of the last vaccination in the vaccine series. In addition, the timing of your dose may also be included as the CDC advises people to remain under the health care professional for 15 minutes after vaccination, mainly as a precaution in the event of a rare allergic reaction.

4) The location

The location of your vaccination dose is indicated on the vaccination card for reference, just in case the background of your vaccination selfie is not clear. In the past few weeks, many mass vaccination sites like the Javits Center in New York have started shutting down as demand for the vaccines has subsided.

5) The health professional

Don’t forget to say thank you!

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