Proof of vaccination may allow us to begin resuming our normal activities in the near future.

Photos that display the COVID-19 vaccination card like a badge of honor have been making the rounds on social media for months, but the card is more than fodder for selfies, it could be your ticket to freedom in the coming months — so it should be protected as such.

The precious paper card contains vital information including the brand of vaccine you received and the dates you were immunised. According to public health experts, it’s crucial to keep that information handy in case you need it to prove your vaccination status, or to streamline possible future booster shots.

Vaccination records can likely eventually be replaced if they are lost or damaged, but it is especially important to take good care of your vaccination records during this pandemic when the country’s healthcare systems are stretched thin.

“A vaccination card is a tool that people can use to declare that they have some level of protection against COVID,” said John Brownstein, Ph.D., an ABC News contributor and epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Being able to assess immunity to COVID is a critical part of trying to resume our daily lives.”

“What these little cards have the potential to do is to make something like international travel easier by avoiding requirements for quarantine or testing,” Amesh Adalja, M.D., FIDSA, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told ABC News.

The logistics around how a “vaccine passport” would work are still up for discussion. “Nothing has been put into place yet,” said Adalja.

Even so, the COVID vaccination card is hardly the first of its kind. Some countries, for example, require proof of vaccination for yellow fever, and many public and private schools require that the children enrolled be fully vaccinated.

All vaccinations administered in the U.S. should have a paper trail, but if your vaccine card can help you navigate through our new normal, you may want to treat it with care.

Below, our specialists answer common questions about the COVID-19 vaccination card and how it may be utilised moving forward:

Why is it important to keep your vaccination card?

“It’s important for people to have a record of which vaccine they received and when they got their shots,” Dr Krutika Kuppalli, vice-chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s global health committee and an emerging leader in biosecurity at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told ABC News. “It’s your proof that you got your vaccine.”

Although vaccine studies are still ongoing, the vaccine brand and lot number in your card may be relevant when the time comes for a booster dose, she said.

“Whether it’s school, entertainment venues or travel, there’s going to be an expectation that to resume these activities you have to be retested and enter quarantine or produce proof of immunisation,” said Brownstein.

What if I lose my card?

It is possible to get a duplicate blank card, but you’ll need to fill it out with your vaccination information. Luckily, both the facility and the state where you received your vaccine should keep those records.

According to Adalja, “you should go back to where you got vaccinated,” and if that doesn’t work, you have another option: call your state’s department of health, which also keeps a record.

Every state has an immunisation database, explained Kuppalli, but that data is not shared across state lines.

Some national chains, like CVS and Walgreens, also promise to have apps that show vaccination records if you received your vaccines with them.