Whether it becomes mandatory or not to show your COVID-19 vaccination card at events, restaurants, bars, hotels, airports, and other public places, it’s a good idea to digitize the paper card on your smartphone so that it’s always with you. It’s also wise to give yourself quick, convenient access to it, so you’re not holding up lines while trying to locate the file, and there are a few ways to do that on your iPhone.
Before I get to that, though, know that some places may require your physical paper card versus a digital file, so it’s good to keep it in your wallet or purse for backup. Since you may be carrying that around, there’s always the potential that it gets lost, and that’s another reason to digitize it on your iPhone. Until you acquire another proof of coronavirus immunization card, your iPhone will be all you have.
Some cities have mobile or web apps where you can gain official access to your digital COVID-19 vaccinations passport, a few of which can live as a pass in your Apple Wallet that you can bring up any time you triple-click your Side or Home button. If you can add your official coronavirus immunity card to Wallet, that’s the way to go for quick access, but everyone else should keep reading.
With the help of the Shortcuts app and several other native Apple features, I’ll show you how to pull up your COVID-19 vaccination record card in just a few seconds by using your voice, tapping on the back of your iPhone, or opening a widget. That way, whether you’re in line for a concert or checking into a room, showing your vaccination card on your iPhone should be as easy as showing a digital boarding pass or loyalty card.
If you haven’t yet converted your CDC-issued COVID-19 vaccination record card to a PDF on your iPhone, do that first. The process is simple; scan your physical vaccine card with the Notes app, edit the image, and save the PDF. My guide (linked below) goes into more detail on cropping the document, processing it in grayscale or black and white, and other things you should know, so make sure to check that out when digitizing your COVID-19 vaccine card.
Aside from the Notes app, you can also scan your COVID-19 vaccine card using Files. The process is similar, except your PDF is stored in the Files app. If you prefer to keep your important documents in Files, it might be a better alternative, and you would just use Files instead of Notes in the instructions below.
I’ll be showing two different methods for getting quick access to your digital COVID-19 vaccination card on your iPhone, and one is slightly more complicated than the other but more useful overall. So if you want a simple way to do it, try Option 1 to use the Notes widget. For more versatile access, use Shortcuts in Option 2.
The Notes widget in iOS 14 and later can be added to your home screen, Today View (for lock screen access), or both, and it can take you right to the image of your COVID-19 immunization record.
To start, enter the home screen and Today View editor by long-pressing the background until apps and widgets start jiggling. You can also long-press an app or widget, then choose “Edit Home Screen” from the quick actions.
Tap the plus (+) button at the top, then find and select “Notes” from the widget gallery. Here, there are several widget size and content options for Notes, but the one that you’ll probably want is the small square widget that takes up four app icons’ worth of space and only shows one note, not a folder of notes.
Add the widget to your home screen or Today View in a convenient location — one that’s fast to access when you open to your home screen or swipe open the Today View from the lock screen — then tap it while the layout editor is still open. If you already exited the editor, long-press on the Notes widget and select “Edit Widget.”
By default, the one-note only Notes widget will show your most recent note, so you’ll want to change that to be only your coronavirus proof of immunization card. In the widget editor, tap the current note, then find and select your COVID vaccine card.
Tap outside of the widget to save. If things are still jiggling, tap “Done,” tap the background, or click the Home button (if you have a Touch ID model) to exit the home screen editor. Now all that’s left to do is test it out. Tap on the Notes widget, and it will open directly to the notes with your COVID vaccine card.
A more convenient way to access your digital COVID vaccine card on your iPhone may be to ask Siri to show it to you or tap the Apple on the back of your iPhone a few times. To do that, you’ll need to create a shortcut first.
Launch the Shortcuts app, make sure you’re on the “My Shortcuts” tab, then tap the plus (+) button to start a new shortcut. Next, tap “Add Action” or the search bar.
In the search bar, type “Notes” and then tap on the Notes app icon that appears. Several actions related to Notes should appear, but what you’re looking for is the name of the note with the vaccine card in it. If you’ve recently created the COVID-19 vaccine card PDF, you should see it listed near your other recently created notes.
If you don’t see the note, exit Shortcuts, go to Notes, find the note with the vaccine card, and edit it (e.g., type in a letter and then delete it) to put it at the top of your Notes list. Go back to Shortcuts and tap on the note containing the vaccine card.
The note will be added as an action to the shortcut, meaning whenever the shortcut is run, the note will open. Hit “Next” in the top right and enter a name for your shortcut. Give it a simple name like “Open Vaccine Card” or “COVID Card,” especially if you want to use Siri to open it. Finally, tap on “Done” to finish creating the shortcut.
Obviously, the most straightforward way to run the shortcut that shows off your COVID-19 vaccine card is to open Shortcuts and tap on the shortcut itself. While this does work, with the number of steps it takes, you might as well open the Notes app and find the note containing the vaccine card. There are two better and faster alternatives:
Using only your voice, you can ask Siri to run the shortcut you just created. Depending on the name you gave the shortcut, all you need to do is say “Hey Siri” (if enabled) or long-press the Side or Home button, then say the shortcut’s name. In my case, I say, “Show Vaccine Card.”
Back Tap, the accessibility feature introduced with iOS 14, allows anyone with a compatible iPhone to tap the Apple on the back to run many different actions, including opening locking the screen, taking a screenshot, running Siri, turning down the volume, and more. Fortunately, you can also run shortcuts with Back Tap, meaning you can use it to run your newly created shortcut.
To add the shortcut to Back Tap, go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Touch –> Back Tap, and then choose either to use a double-tap or triple-tap. Next, scroll through the list of actions and choose the shortcut you created. Once it’s added to Back Tap, tap the back of your iPhone either twice or three times to run the shortcut and quickly show your COVID-19 vaccine card.
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