Digital deadbolt for your vaccination card

Just last week I helped an alumni of our Discover Digital Literacy! program store her vaccination card on her smartphone. Before we started, she already knew that taking a picture was the easiest option. She can keep the picture on the smartphone's digital photo album app.

Basically, she didn't want to carry around her original vaccine card and lamination wasn't a viable option either since it may make it difficult to update the card with newer information (like when she gets the booster shot). Some restaurants, for example, are requiring proof of vaccination, she said.

She showed me a newspaper clipping of an article mentioning/comparing three vaccine card storage apps available in the App Store or Play Store (Apple and Google respectively). Unfortunately, the downside of all these apps was how different jurisdictions – counties, states, and even countries – use/standardize on an app that may be different from what you install. Of course, one can load their vaccine card on every vaccine card storage app available but I reminded her of my "You are the product" article from earlier this year ( that can bite into people's right to privacy in the digital world.

I love to use the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach to problem solving. My recommendation was to build on her idea of taking a digital picture of the vaccine card but additionally "hiding" the digital picture so it doesn't automatically show in the Photos app alongside your grandkids' pictures. FWIW (for what it's worth), the Photos app is already installed when you buy an iPhone/iPad made by Apple or an Android-based smartphone/tablet made by various manufacturers like Google, Samsung, and LG.

In both iPhone/iPad and Android-based smartphone/tablet, their implementation of "hiding" is not as secure as a deadbolt on the front door to your house in the real world. So is there something akin to the deadbolt for your smartphone/tablet? The answer is a resounding "yes!"

If you are not already using the "Passcode" (iPhone/iPad) or "Screen Lock" (Android-based smartphone/tablet) feature that will challenge you to enter a PIN (Personal Identification Number) before being able to use, aka "open," your smartphone/tablet, I highly recommend enabling it:

  • For iPhone/iPad, tap on the "Settings" icon -> select "Touch ID & Passcode" -> tap on "Turn Passcode On" -> when prompted type in a six digit PIN of your choice -> write it down in your password notebook that I hope you keep -> when prompted, type that PIN again to verify -> enter your Apple ID password if requested.
  • For Android-based smartphone/tablet, tap on the "Settings" icon -> select "Security" -> select "Screen Lock" -> select "PIN" -> when prompted type in a PIN that is at least four digits -> tap "Next" button -> re-enter your PIN -> tap "Confirm" button -> select how much notifications are shown before you type the PIN -> tap "Done" button.    

In the next column, I'll cover the steps to put the selected pictures in the hidden folder that doesn't automatically show in the Photos app and also tie up loose ends.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 13, Issue 18, Posted 10:10 AM, 09.21.2021