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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

May 2, 2022

All Californians

Vaccine Record Guidelines & Standards

This Guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only. Local health jurisdictions and facilities may continue to implement requirements. For more information on vaccines, see the​​​ Covid-19 Vaccines page.

Related Materials: My Vaccine RecordMore Employees & Workplaces Guidance | COVID-19 Vaccines Home Page | All Guidance  | More Languages

COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting people from getting sick​​. The more individuals get vaccinated, the closer we get to progressing beyond this pandemic. And the more people are vaccinated in any given setting, the safer that setting becomes. In certain settings, people in California may be required to provide a COVID-19 vaccination record. Refer to the various State Public Health Officer Orders, for more information about the specific requirements for certain settings, including schools, healthcare and other congregate settings.

"Completed Primary Series" is defined as having received:

COVID-19 Vaccine

Primary Series
Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech

  • Two doses
Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen
  • One dose
World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listing COVID-19 vaccine
A mix and match series composed of any combination of FDA-approved, FDA-authorized, or WHO-EUL COVID-19 vaccines


Purpose of this Document:

  1. To identify various options for individuals to provide proof of vaccination.
  2. To provide instructions to individuals on where to obtain records of their vaccination.
  3. To provide points for consideration to help business owners and operators who may want to verify vaccine status of individuals to do so responsibly.
  4. To provide standards for organizations issuing different types of vaccine records.

Options for Providing Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination:

  • COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or WHO Yellow Card1) which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date doses administered); OR
  • A photo of a vaccination card as a separate document; OR
  • A photo of the client's vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device; OR
  • Documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider; OR
  • Digital record that includes a QR code that when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader displays to the reader client name, date of birth, vaccine dates and vaccine type; OR
  • Documentation of vaccination from other contracted employers who follow these vaccination records guidelines and standards.

Where to Obtain Copies of COVID-19 Vaccination Records:

  • All individuals who are vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine should receive a paper DHHS CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.
  • Request your digital record at for all COVID-19 vaccinations administered in California with State distributed vaccine and for vaccines administered as part of the federal pharmacies, dialysis center, and federally qualified health center programs. To get your Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record, your mobile phone number or email address must be included with your record in the California Immunization Registry (CAIR). Make sure your provider has that information and submits it to the registry. If you aren't able to access your record, follow the troubleshooting tips.
  • People vaccinated through a healthcare provider can also request copies of their records from the healthcare provider.
  • Individuals who received their vaccine at a federal facility (Department of Defense, Indian Health Services, or Veterans Affairs) will need to request a vaccine record from those facilities directly; the information is not submitted to or documented in California Immunization Registry (CAIR).

Guidelines for Implementing a COVID-19 Vaccine Verification Process:

When seeking confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination status, organizations may manually review a paper or digital copy of individual's COVID-19 Vaccine Record Card or use a SMART Health Card-compatible reader to confirm the information contained in the digital vaccine record, with the individual's consent.

As part of that process, California recommends that organizations adhere to the following standards and principles for COVID-19 vaccine verification:

  • Records should be verified through a private and confidential process.
  • Verification should not create or perpetuate social or health inequities or lead to discrimination.
  • Verification should not create barriers to essential services or restrict access based on a protected characteristic.
  • Workers who have not completed their primary series, or for whom vaccine status is unknown or documentation is not provided, should be considered unvaccinated.

Guidelines for Issuers of COVID-19 Vaccination Records:

  • COVID-19 vaccination records should be available at no cost. Vaccinators should give patients the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards that are supplied with ancillary kits.
  • The COVID-19 Vaccination Program requires providers to report doses administered within 24 hours of vaccine administration. Mobile phone numbers and email addresses are not required but submission of this contact information helps Californians obtain a digital record of their vaccination.
  • Digital (QR code), digital file, and/or paper copies of a COVID-19 vaccine record should be available upon request.
  • Minimum personal information should be required for individuals to access their COVID-19 vaccine record to protect privacy.
  • Entities that produce a digital COVID-19 vaccine record should follow guidelines and standards from the SMART Health Card Framework described by the Verifiable Clinical Information (VCI) charter.

​Originally Published on June 14, 2021