(CNN) — Nearly 170 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States, which means that the same number have received a version of the white card from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English).
The CDC vaccination card is likely to be the primary proof of vaccination going forward, as the United States continues to ease pandemic restrictions. Much of the information on the card is straightforward, but other parts, such as the vaccine lot number, point to key details that are less well known.
Below we have annotated a sample CDC vaccination card so we can better review the details of the process.
1) The manufacturer
In the United States, there are three COVID-19 vaccines licensed for emergency use: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer and Moderna are two-dose vaccines, while J&J is one-dose.
2) The lot number and expiration date
The batch number is a string of numbers and letters that tracks this specific batch of vaccines from production to your arm. This batch number is related to the expiration date, which, like food packaging, indicates when this batch of vaccines may begin to degrade. Pfizer and Moderna say their vaccines have a shelf life of up to six months, while Johnson & Johnson says it is conducting studies to determine the duration of its vaccine.
This expiration date is not relevant for the time that vaccinated people are protected against covid-19. (That remains unclear.) Instead, the expiration date is especially useful for governments and vaccine suppliers, who have to coordinate the purchase and use of large quantities of vaccines within their limited shelf life.
This is likely to become more important in the coming months, as some of the first vaccine doses begin to reach their expiration date. For example, South Sudan announced plans to discard 59,000 doses of vaccines donated by AstraZeneca that had expired in April.
3) The date
The vaccination date is important to know when to get vaccinated again, if necessary, and when you are “fully vaccinated.” The CDC considers people to be “fully vaccinated” two weeks after the date of the last injection in the vaccine series.
In addition, the time of your dose can also be included because the CDC advises that people remain under observation by medical professionals for 15 minutes after being vaccinated, mainly as a precaution in case of a rare allergic reaction.
4) The place
The location of the vaccine dose is written on the vaccination card for your reference, in case the background of your “vaccine selfie” is not clear. In recent weeks, many mass vaccination centers, such as the Javits Center in New York, have begun to reduce their activity as the demand for vaccines has decreased.
5) The responsible healthcare professional
Don’t forget to say thank you.