Posting Your COVID-19 Vaccination Card on Social Media Is a Bad Idea—Here’s Why

Don't tempt the scammers.
Don't tempt the scammers. / Olena Hololobova/iStock via Getty Images

While getting the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is well worth celebrating on social media, flaunting your vaccination card in photos is ill-advised.

For one thing, it could make you more vulnerable to identity theft. Though it might seem like the card doesn’t include enough sensitive data to really pose a risk, savvy thieves can use every detail. “Identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of pieces of personal information,” Federal Trade Commission attorney Seena Gressin explained on the FTC blog. “For example, just by knowing your date and place of birth, scammers sometimes can guess most of the digits of your social security number.” And even if nobody ends up using your vaccination card to drain your bank account, they could use it to create counterfeit cards—something that’s already been reported in the UK, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Sharing your vaccination card online could also interfere with your right to privacy. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) federally mandates that healthcare providers (and other relevant parties) protect individuals’ medical information. If you yourself publicly disclose that you received the vaccine, however, HIPAA regulations may not apply.

“The information on the vaccination card is in most cases protected health information subject to HIPAA protection,” Elizabeth Litten, chief privacy and HIPAA compliance officer at Fox Rothschild LLP, told Healthline. “But once it’s shared by the individual via social media, it no longer enjoys that protection and may be used for medical identity theft or as a means of hacking into patient portals.”

If your social media accounts are private and your followers are all trusted friends and family members, posting a photo of your vaccination card is less risky. That said, why take an unnecessary risk in what’s clearly a “better safe than sorry” situation? “How about a photo of a nifty adhesive bandage on the injection site?” Gressin suggested as a safe alternative. “You can show off your tattoos and deltoids at the same time.”

[h/t Healthline]