You can laminate your vaccine card for free, but consider this first

68% of Americans Want a COVID-19 Vaccine Before Returning to Normal Life

Staples and Office Depot announced last week that they’ll be offering free lamination services for completed COVID-19 vaccination cards. But before you take advantage of the offers, there are a few things you should consider first.

A few stores have announced offers to laminate COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards free of charge. Staples is providing the complimentary service through July 31. Meanwhile, Office Depot and OfficeMax are offering a coupon for people to use to redeem a free lamination of the card by July 25.

The offers come amid reports of vaccine passports being in development to verify COVID-19 immunization status. On April 5, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told Politico’s “Dispatch” podcast that vaccine passports are “not going to be mandated from the federal government.”

Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expressed the importance of holding onto the cards issued by the agency “in case you need it for future use.” It also says people should think about snapping a photo of the card after receiving their second shot to keep as a backup copy.

If you want to make sure your physical card remains protected, however, lamination could be something you’re considering. But the main concern of laminating the card is potential damage.

“In some locations, a label is placed on the card that talks about the vaccine brand and lot number and those have been printed on thermal printer labels,” Nextstar Media reported Tom Iovino, the public information officer for the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, said. “So what happens is if you put them through a thermal laminator, they will be completely black and illegible.”

KTLA’s 5 Live also reported that some people have said the ink on the cards disappeared from the heat used to laminate them.

Should you choose to laminate your card, CNN also has several suggestions for what you should do to protect it beforehand. In addition to the CDC’s advice to take a photo of the card here are three other things you may need to do.

Make sure the information is accurate

For those who are getting a two-dose vaccine, make sure you’ve received and documented both of them before getting your card laminated. Double-check that your name, date of birth and the location where you got the vaccine are correct.

Know what to do if it gets damaged

If the ink gets smudged or becomes illegible during the lamination process, you’ll need to get in touch with the vaccine provider to get a new card. Use the CDC directory if you have issues contacting the vaccine provider. They are required to report vaccines to the state immunization information system.

Georgia’s IIS contact information is as follows:

Georgia Immunization Registry (GRITS)

(404) 463- 0810

Proof is most important

If you’re concerned that laminating your card could pose an issue if booster shots are recommended down the line, Dr. Leana Wen told CNN you shouldn’t worry.

“If you do end up getting a booster after, you can always get a different card,” said Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. “I wouldn’t let that be a deterrent.”

“Lamination isn’t necessary if you follow all the other steps above, too,” she added. “The key is to have proof of vaccination easily accessible.”