How to Get Proof of the COVID Vaccine Ahead of Thanksgiving

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

How to Get Proof of the COVID Vaccine Ahead of Thanksgiving
Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash

Show-stopping turkeys and extended family get-togethers are back this Thanksgiving.

With 81% of Angelenos ages 12 and older have been fully vaccine, restaurants have reopened and travel has more or less resumed at full capacity.


But, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health warns, the cold winter weather and increased indoor socialization are ripe conditions for the coronavirus to breed, either through young unvaccinated children or rare breakthrough cases. Already, the county is seeing a spike in cases.

And some municipalities are tightening COVID-19 restrictions - Los Angeles itself instituted a rule that requires proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, malls and theaters.

If your family is flying into town for the holidays, or you're venturing out of sunny L.A. for colder pastures, here are some things to consider so you don't get turned away from your vacation rental.

To board a plane:

All travelers coming to the U.S. for the holidays must be fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized or World Health Organization-approved vaccine. Visitors from outside the state or country will be required to fill out a form at LAX that indicates they understand CDC recommendations for traveling upon arrival.

The U.S. requires all travelers ages 2 and older to wear face masks in any indoor public space, including the plane. And if U.S. residents 2 and older are traveling back to the country from an international destination, they must show proof of a recent negative COVID test.

Utilize COVID rapid tests

The CDC recommends vaccinated travelers take a COVID test at least three days before traveling, and requires it for unvaccinated individuals. LAX offers nasal PCR tests with a three-to-five hour turnaround time that cost $125, one-hour rapid PCR tests for $199, and one-hour antigen tests at $80. Testing sites can be found at Terminal 6, Terminal 2 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal. You can book appointments online.

L.A. County also has several testing sites scattered across the county, which can be found here.

It's generally best practice to buy a couple rapid tests at your local drugstore and keep them while traveling in case someone in your party starts displaying COVID symptoms.

Get vaccinated and receive a CDC-issued card

You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or your first Johnson&Johnson vaccine.

The CDC-issued paper COVID vaccine is perhaps the most universally recognized form of proof across the United States and is given to anyone who is vaccinated against COVID-19. All fields, including the date of when you got vaccinated, should be filled out.

However, this form of proof is also the most precarious. A paper card can go missing, or get damaged and become unreadable. Keep the card in a safe, dry, easy-to-access area and take a picture of it in case it goes missing. Take a picture of it too, since many establishments will accept a digital photograph as proof.

Get a digital vaccination record

If you got both vaccines in California, the state health department will have them on file at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov. Fill out a few key pieces of information like your name and your birth date, and the site will send your record to your smartphone or email.

If you got vaccinated in L.A. County, health startup and county partner Healthvana will also send you a digital record via text or email that you can screenshot, download, or embed into Apple Wallet or Google Pay for easy access. If you got your second dose outside of the county, you will be able to input it into Healthvana's app.

If you got your vaccine in L.A. County but can't find the link from Healthvana, you can request it at healthvana.com/contact.

Traveling to Europe? Get the European Union COVID pass

Traveling to Europe? First of all, lucky you. Second of all, the E.U. has a standardized set of rules for digital vaccination records, called a Digital COVID Certificate, that are used by all 27 countries (and even some non-E.U. countries like Norway). Some E.U. countries may not accept local digital vaccination records from U.S. municipalities, and having a DCC may make it easier to enter establishments. If you are not from the E.U., you can ask the country you are traveling to for a DCC as long as that country accepts your form of vaccination proof.
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