This story was originally published and last updated .
A Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card provides proof that you've been vaccinated, but you're no longer limited to carrying around a flimsy piece of paper. Digital vaccine passports have become more accessible throughout the summer as healthcare providers and individual states have implemented their own methods. With these updated digital passes, physical cards are often no longer required, though you should keep your sheet as a backup no matter what. Let's look at the current state of how vaccine passports work on Android, as well as an easy way to save a backup copy to your phone — complete with a shortcut accessible from your home screen.
There's no guarantee that businesses that need your card will accept a digital copy. Don't rely on it as your only option. But if the original is lost or damaged, having a backup could come in handy, and it may be convenient alternative if anyone will accept it.
Google's Passes API for Pay was updated in June to support vaccination and Covid test information in the app. Using this new tool, healthcare organizations can send you your vaccine proof in the form of a text, email, app, or website, which you can use to link your information. This data is stored locally on your phone, never uploaded to Google's servers, and authentication is required before you can access your QR code.
This feature is currently available in the US and Australia, with the latter using its Medicare portal to let citizens add their information. In the US, it seems to rely primarily on whether individual healthcare providers have adopted the practice. Some states are slowly joining in as well, though it's fairly limited for the time being. For example, the Excelsior Pass in New York can't be added to Google Pay, even though the application supports Apple Wallet on iOS devices. Meanwhile, California's vaccine records can be added to Pay with just a few clicks.
As vaccine proof becomes more crucial than ever, this feature should expand over time. For now, it's mostly limited to whether your specific healthcare provider supports Google Pay.
Samsung is also adding vaccination passes to its mobile payment application in a partnership with the Commons Project Foundation. Any SMART health card, including vaccine passes and negative PCR tests, can be added to the app for easy access. The feature will be fully active in the US by the start of September, and you'll need the CommonHealth app on your phone to find your pass.
Scan it in Google Drive
While Google and Samsung continue to expand availability in their respective mobile payment apps, the simplest and most universal approach remains Google Drive.
To start, bust out your Vaccination Record Card, put it on a flat contrasting surface, and fire up the Google Drive app. We're going to scan a copy of the card.
Tap the big floating action button on the bottom right, then tap Scan. The camera will open, and you'll be presented with your phone's current view of the world. Point it at your vaccine card as it's resting on that contrasting surface.
When you have the shot lined up as squarely as you can get it, tap the big prominent shutter button. You'll get a preview of the image that was captured, giving you a chance to double-check that the image was captured cleanly before continuing. If everything seems legible and square, tap the checkmark to continue, and Google Drive will crop and adjust the image to better suit being a PDF.
If necessary, you can make tweaks before saving the document, including adjusting the crop or rotating it, should Drive not have detected the correct orientation. Again, if everything seems legible, correctly formatted, and generally looks like your original record card, tap Save.
You'll be prompted for which account, folder, and file name you'd like to save it under. Double-check that you're saving it to your primary account in the My Drive directory. (You can save it elsewhere, but the rest of my steps won't line up precisely, so you'll be on your own.) Rename it to something easy to identify and remember, like "Covid Vaccine Card." Once all those details are set, tap Save. The file will then be queued for upload to your Google Drive.
Your settings and things like being on a Wi-Fi access point vs. mobile data could affect the precise timing. You can check your notifications to see if it was successful or force the upload, if necessary, before moving on.
Put a shortcut on your home screen
Now we need to find the document we just uploaded to Google Drive and drop a shortcut to it on your home screen. There are a few different ways to do that, but our instructions should be a consistently simple way.
Fire up the Google Drive app and tap the right-most "Files" tab on the bottom of the screen. You should be dumped to your "My Drive" root directory. (If you followed our instructions earlier, that's where your vaccination record card should be saved. If not, you may have to do a little digging to find it.) Scroll down until you can see the file name you saved the card under. When you've found it, tap the three-dot overflow menu next to the filename.
First, tap "make available offline" so you can still access the card in case your phone doesn't have a data connection when you need it. When that is successful, the option will say "available offline," and the checkmark icon next to it will turn green.
Once that's done, scroll down further in the same menu until you see "add to Home screen." Tap that.
You can either tap "add automatically" to have your phone simply plop the shortcut down on your home screen wherever it fits, or you can tap and hold to pick it up as you're taken to your home screen to place it wherever you like.
Although this workflow might imply you're dealing with a widget, you can put this shortcut in a folder or treat it like any other app on your home screen. Tapping it gives you instant access to the scanned PDF, so you don't have to dig through your notes app, gallery, or local files to find it. And if you decide to move where the file is located in your Google Drive later, the shortcut will continue to work.
The idea of a Covid "Vaccine Passport" remains contentious, but they're probably inevitable if we want to return to the sort of capacities and densities in both public places and private businesses that we had in the beforetimes. Odds are, your Covid-19 Vaccination Card won't be that passport, but right now, it's the closest thing we have, and several industries are already using it as one — even making or buying a fake one is a federal crime.
Again, businesses may not accept this in lieu of your physical card, but it's good to have a backup just in case you need it.
We've updated this guide with information on how Google Pay and Samsung Pay work with vaccine passes.