Is There a ‘Vaccine Passport’ in Your Future?

By Paul Riegler on 4 February 2021
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A “vaccine passport” may be in your future and in your digital wallet.

A vaccination passport is a form of certificate that proves that the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and possibly that he tested negative for the virus.  The goal of a vaccine passport is to allow individuals who have been vaccinated to travel with greater ease, although there is no current standard. Indeed, many groups are working on such projects including travel industry associations, non-profits, and tech companies, but the final goal is something the traveler would carry in his digital wallet.

Among the executive orders signed by President Joseph Biden is one that directs the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to “assess the feasibility” of linking coronavirus inoculations to international vaccination certificates that were developed by the World Health Organization and make them available in digital form.

The move would link Covid-19 vaccinations to the standard International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

The model International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis was adopted in 2007 by the World Health Organization.   The certificate is valid only for vaccinations approved by the WHO and must be signed by the supervising medical practitioner who would then affix the official stamp of the administering center.  It includes complete details on the vaccine that was administered including the manufacturer, brand name, and batch number as well as how long the certificate would be valid.  The WHO’s certificate has room for multiple vaccinations but is currently not available in digital form.

The Biden order seeks to produce digital versions of the certificate and the executive order directs the agencies to determine the feasibility of linking Covid-19 vaccines to the WHO certificate.

Other agencies mentioned in the order include the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Meanwhile, IBM has been working on its own digital health pass, calling the project “a smart way to bring people back to a physical location, such as a workplace, school, stadium, or airline flight.”

IBM is not alone in its efforts, however.  On Wednesday, the Danish government said that it would introduce what it termed a “digital passport” that can be used as proof of vaccination, and the International Air Transport Association has developed a digital travel pass that shows vaccinations and coronavirus test results that can be used by airlines.  Two so far – Etihad Airways and Emirates – have said they will start to use it imminently.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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