Your Mobile Digital Vaccination Record

As Janet and I have resumed traveling, we’ve had to show our CDC COVID vaccination certificates prior to boarding international flights or boarding a cruise ship. Increasingly, providing proof that you are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus is required to gain admission to a range of venues. The trend to require proof of vaccination to gain admission to theaters, concert halls, restaurants, and bars hasn’t hit Maryland to the extent it has other states, and maybe it won’t. If it does, I’d rather not have to carry my CDC COVID card around and risk losing it. Sure, I can replace it. But what a pain!

I took a snapshot of my CDC card and saved it as a PDF that I can access on my phone. I know there are all sorts of articles cautioning against that, but give me a break. The only personal information is my name, my birthday (which facebook spreads around to the entire interweb every year anyway) and the lot numbers of the serum in my shots which, spoiler alert…I don’t use as the basis for any of my online passwords. Carrying a PDF of my CDC card on my cell phone is far safer than the risk of losing it IMHO. BUT…if all you need it for is to get a beer at a bar, there may be another way.

Recently Janet and I discovered a tool called MyIRmobile (IR=Immunization Record). Maryland is one of over a half-dozen states and D.C. that participate in the program which makes individual immunization records stored in state electronic health records (EHRs) available through a convenient cloud-based web service you access on your cellphone. There is no cost to sign up. You just go to the website and create an account, enter information specific to your state, authorize the MyIR service to access your state EHR, and you’re done. Once your account is set up you can access whatever immunization records the state has on file for you, which include your COVID vax. You can even use MyIRmobile to bring up a PDF display of your Maryland COVID vaccination certificate…which by the way I didn’t even know that was a thing.

A few cautions are in order…MyIRmobile wants to be much more than it is. It wants to be an app, but it isn’t. It is a mobile enabled web service that you have to access using your phone’s web browser. It wants to be a complete immunization record for residents of the participating states, but it isn’t. It is only as good as the data in your state EHR. In my case that included my last flu shot, my pneumonia vaccination, and an old DPT booster from way back in 1979 …how did that get in there? My actual hardcopy shot record is as long as my arm. I know because I checked. It also wants to be a reminder service to let you know when you are due for any vaccination the CDC or HHS recommends for your age which I find most annoying. I don’t need that. Convenience aside, unlike your CDC COVID card there are real privacy implications if you worry about things like that, but I’ll post about that in a separate article.

The MyIRmobile service works whether you got your COVID vax at a state run vaccination center or a pharmacy like CVS, but it doesn’t work if you got your vax out of state. Participating states include Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, Washigton (both state and D.C.), and West Virginia. If, like many snowbirds, you live in Maryland but were vaccinated in Florida, you are out of luck.

MyIRmobile is a tool that Janet and I find useful, for now. Whether it’s usefulness will continue past the point where COVID is endemic is another story. For now, it’s another way I can avoid having to carry my CDC COVID vaccination certificate.

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