It seems like every day that I see social media posts in which people share photos of the official COVID-19 vaccine card that they have received after being vaccinated against the novel coronavirus that has inflicted tremendous suffering worldwide over the past year.
While it is easy to understand why people are eager to celebrate their vaccinations, sharing photos of your physical vaccination card (in the USA, The CDC “COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card”) opens the door for multiple potential problems.
The vaccination card contains several elements of PII (personally identifiable information) – including your full name, date of birth, the dates on which you received doses of the vaccine, the manufacturer and lot numbers of the relevant doses, and the physical location at which the injections were administered; this type of information may be useful to identity thieves seeking to build profiles of would-be victims.
Perhaps even scarier is the possibility that, if you share a photo of your vaccine card, a criminal may use the information to social engineer you (or a family member, co-worker, etc.) If you received a phone call from someone claiming to be an administrator at the facility at which you were vaccinated, for example, informing you that the vaccine that you received was from a defective supply and offering to reschedule you for a repeat injection ASAP, would you “confirm” for that person your registration information and/or other personal details? Consider the people close to you – could any of them potentially fall for some variant of such a scam?
Another problem with posting vaccination cards is the fact that images of such cards that appear online can potentially help criminals create fraudulent cards – which they will certainly be doing once vaccination becomes an express admission ticket into various countries and places of business. (Personally, I do not believe that the physical cards being distributed in many areas of the USA should be trusted for any such purposes – the cards are simply too easy to forge – we should be issuing only digital versions and printed versions with easily scannable QR codes or the like that can be instantly verified.)
As such, it is unwise to share photos of your vaccination card on social media. If you feel that you cannot overcome the urge to share it, at least remove or “white out” all sensitive information.
Also, we should be sensitive to the fact that, due to no fault of their own, many people who want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 have not yet been able to get even the first of the two necessary injections. So, while there may be plenty of reason to celebrate receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, please consider how you celebrate.