what do I do with a QR "Personal Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record "
August 12, 2021 8:26 PM   Subscribe

I've got a "Personal Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record" in the form of a QR code image calling itself "SMART Health Card" from the State of California. What do I do with it?

They texted me a link https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/qr... to the page with the QR image, but the link itself expires after 24 hours so I don't think that's helpful. They write " Once accessed and saved to your device, the QR code will not expire."

Do I just take a photo of it with my cellphone and show that if/when asked for vaccination status? Or is there some special way to save QR codes on a phone?

Fwiw according to Google Lens the QR code decodes to a long (very long) decimal numeric string, starting with "shc:/56762..." which I've saved in text format.

(As a retired programmer I'm astonished at having no clue about this!)
posted by anadem to Technology (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Take a screenshot. IF places need to see your QR code they will use a QR code reader on your phone screen. If you want to have a paper copy you could also print the screenshot.
posted by mekily at 8:45 PM on August 12, 2021

Best answer: I had to take a screenshot on my phone and save it to the phone. I think that's what you're intended to do with the thing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:46 PM on August 12, 2021

Best answer: Just save the image file with the other photos on your phone. You can show the QR code to anyone who is set up to verify them. The code contains the same data as on your CDC vaccination card, along with a digital signature. A venue that wants to verify that you are vaccinated can scan the QR code, see that it is valid, and then compare the decoded name and birthdate to your photo ID.

California is using the SMART Health Cards standard. A non-technical overview is at smarthealth.cards. Technical specifications can be found on GitHub, and a GitHub Gist for a simple Javascript decoder.

You can scan, verify, and decode these SMART Health Card QR codes at: If you want to scan and decode California's Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record QR code with with a mobile phone I recommend the Smart Health Card Verifier app by The Commons Project.
posted by RichardP at 8:48 PM on August 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I took a screenshot and saved it in Evernote for easy locating. Otherwise it gets buried in my regular photos. There’s probably some way to label it in photos but I don’t know how.
posted by JenMarie at 8:49 PM on August 12, 2021

Best answer: I read somewhere to put the photo in an album on the phone to be able to find it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:59 PM on August 12, 2021

Best answer: If you take a screenshot and save it as a photo, consider marking it as a favorite so that it is easy to find.
posted by FlatHill at 9:41 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: iOS devices will allow you to save it in your wallet. I don’t know if there’s an Android equivalent.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:17 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm an epidemiologist who got vaccinated in California. To give you a practical application experience, I just re-entered the UK via Eurotunnel after a period of work in France. In addition to all the paperwork, advance testing, advance purchase of post-arrival testing, etc., I showed the border control folks a saved screenshot of my CA QR code record along with my passport. Until rules change, this is how those things are being used.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:52 AM on August 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Of course, you could also take a photo of your actual shot record and keep that on your phone. May be best to do both. (I'm frustrated because after weeks of trying to get my CA QR code, I finally received it this week only to discover that they'd entered the shot record incorrectly. Ugh!)
posted by SPrintF at 6:50 AM on August 13, 2021

Best answer: Saving a screenshot or printing it out is fine. However if you want to be fancy on a phone, Android already supports storing the record inside your Google Pay wallet. Starting next month iOS 15 on iPhones will be able to store it to Apple Health. Note that San Francisco is now requiring proof of vaccination for many activities, including going to restaurants. Having this code will come in handy!

EFF has a simple readable article with technical details of what's in the signature in a narrative form, instead of a spec. It's basically the same information as is in text on a vaccine card: name, birthdate, vaccination status, and details of the vaccination like where it was done, when, which type, and with what lot. This whole bundle of info is cryptographically signed (by California?) so it can be verified offline.
posted by Nelson at 7:10 AM on August 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I did this process to set up a shortcut on my iPhone with my own vaccination record here in Canada, which might be a good choice for you if you're carrying around a photo so you can grab it quickly.

NB that I couldn't move the actual scan into my iCloud Drive/Shortcuts folder on my phone as the video's instructions say; I had to do it on my computer.
posted by urbanlenny at 3:08 PM on August 13, 2021

(FWIW I just followed the instructions to install the vaccine record on Android, in Google Pay. It works, it ends up in Google Pay as a "pass" like a frequent flyer card or something. It'll also put a shortcut on your home screen to open it.

I ran into one bug; the workflow to add the record does not work if you have Firefox set as your phone's browser. It fails to launch Google Pay from the browser at the right time. That's a pretty unusual setting I have though, most folks on Android are using Chrome. It worked when I manually opened the state's website in Chrome.
posted by Nelson at 3:44 PM on August 13, 2021

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