Woman Says She Only Got Photocopy Instead of CDC Card at Vaxx Site, Affecting Travel Plans

Tens of thousands of people who were vaccinated in San Mateo County, California, reportedly received only a photocopy of their vaccination card rather than the actual and original CDC card, which is universally accepted as official proof that a COVID-19 shot occurred.

Jane Bertelsen, of Foster City—just south of San Francisco—was one of the people vaccinated at a mass vaccination site at the San Mateo County Event Center, KGO-TV reported.

Rather than receiving the vaccine card, she was given an 8-and-a-half-by-11-inch piece of paper with photocopies of the cards.

"When I got my two vaccines, I was only given a photocopy of the CDC card," she told the news station.

When Bertelsen later began planning a cruise trip to Barbados, she reached out to local authorities to ask if the photocopies of the CDC cards would work as official proof. She was told, "you're fine. What you've got is perfectly legitimate. You should be able to use that anytime, any place, anywhere" she said.

However, Bertelsen also asked Seabourne Cruise Line if it would accept the photocopy, and the company told her she needed the official CDC card for proof.

Cruising expert Stewart Chiron told the news station that there is no way to determine the authenticity of the photocopied information. He said the photocopies could raise suspicion as possibly being fake.

"These documents can be doctored," he told the news station.

San Mateo County told Newsweek in a statement it provided the photocopies because "providing the vaccination and safety information on a single sheet reduced the chances of its being lost or ignored, since receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna is essential to being fully vaccinated."

The county used the backside of the paper to provide information about what people could expect after the vaccination, what to do if they have an adverse reaction, and a reminder about their second appointment, according to the statement.

"Local health departments across the country mobilized vaccination at large scale at a time when vaccine verification standards and business practices had not yet been invented," the county said in a second statement. "We now emphasize the State of California's online link to the official immunization registry as the source of truth."

The county said it would be unfortunate for people "to have the impression that the proactive, massive rollout of the vaccine is now responsible for unforeseen difficulties in navigating individual leisure companies' practices."

San Mateo County is now providing official CDC cards, which can be requested online. Bertelsen later received her actual card and her Barbados trip is intact.

Across the country, more and more businesses and employers are requiring proof of vaccinations. State and healthcare workers in California are being mandated to either show proof they are vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that many indoor facilities including restaurants and gyms will be required to receive proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.

The new requirements are largely in response to the highly-transmissible Delta variant becoming the dominant strain in the United States. Health officials point to the variant as the cause of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. California's 7-day-average of new cases Friday was 11,972—compared to a 7-day-average of 1,771 new cases a month earlier on July 6.

Nationwide, 168,343 new cases were reported Friday, a sharp increase from 27,077 new cases on July 6, according to data from The New York Times.

Updated 3:04 PM ET, with a statement from San Mateo County.

CDC vaccination card
Tens of thousands of people who were vaccinated in San Mateo County, California, received only a photocopy of their vaccination card, rather than the official CDC card. In this photo, Gerald McDavitt, 81, a Veteran of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, holds his CDC vaccine card after being inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Janssen Vaccine at his home in Boston, Massachusetts on March 4, 2021. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images