The Biden administration is working on plans to manage credentials that will allow people to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, The Washington Post reportedThese credentials are often referred to as ‘vaccine passports’ and can be displayed on free smartphone apps or printed. Many companies say they will ask for proof of vaccination before allowing people to attend concerts or to travel
Organizing a unified system for credentials like this will be hugely complicated, and the stakes are high: An inconsistent set of options would be confusing and hurt public health efforts, officials said at a March 2 meeting of Federal Health IT Coordinating Council. “A chaotic and ineffective approach to vaccination data could hamper our response to pandemics by undermining health safety measures, slowing economic recovery and undermining public confidence,” a slide obtained by The Washington Post read.
At least 17 groups are already working on their own versions, including a coalition of tech companies called the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI), the World Health Organization, and the International Air Transport Association. New York State has already started using a digital card developed by IBM. It can display vaccination status or COVID-19 test results, and locations such as Madison Square Garden already announced that they will use it as part of the admission.
Federal officials and groups working with vaccine credentials grapple with a variety of technical, ethical, and equality issues as programs progress. Using vaccination as an admission ticket to various activities is fraught when vaccines are not readily available to everyone, and at the moment they are more accessible in white and wealthy communitiesThe reference programs must have robust privacy protections and be resistant to hacking or forgery. People are already there falsifying paper vaccination cards spread at vaccination sites.
Officials also need to consider things like future booster shots and the length of vaccine protection. The Biden government says it will soon have more information on its approach to monitoring vaccine credentials. Almost 30 percent of the US population already have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but it is important to deliberately move forward with this project, an official said The Washington Post. “Chances are it will be built incorrectly, misused or become a bureaucratic mess,” said the official.