COVID Vaccine Verification Swept Under The Rug?
From Forbes: Even as the omicron variant loosens its grip on the world, destinations continue to require travelers to show proof of vaccination. And, increasingly, a paper CDC vaccination card is not cutting it.
While the United States government has not issued a federal digital vaccine pass, a national standard has nevertheless emerged. To date, 21 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico offer accessibility to the SMART Health Card, a verifiable digital proof of vaccination developed through the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI), a global coalition of public and private stakeholders including Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, the Mayo Clinic and other health and tech heavyweights.
And very soon, at least four more states will be rolling out access to SMART Health Cards. “We’ve seen a notable uptick in states that have officially launched public portals where individuals can get verifiable vaccination credentials in the form of SMART Health Cards with a QR code,” says Brian Anderson, co-founder of the VCI and chief digital health physician at MITRE…
Many indoor cultural attractions and performance venues in the U.S. require proof of vaccination. “We believe it gives people peace of mind when the folks around them are unlikely to be contagious,” says Gus Warren, CEO of Bindle, a health verification app that allows venues to verify the vaccination status of patrons.
Bindle’s growing list of clients spans more than 30 states, from blue strongholds like California and New York to red leaners like Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Missouri and Georgia. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for example, there’s a Bindle lane that offers fastpass-like efficiency in scanning QR codes from a number of vaccine verification platforms used around the world.
“The SMART Health Card is such an important development and the Vaccine Credential Initiative has been phenomenal in getting this out there,” says Warren, noting that while Bindle recognizes several interoperable standards, the SMART Health Card has emerged as the most important. “Absolutely, it has become the standard across the U.S. and North America…”
The second argument for adopting a digital vaccine verification system is the one swaying red-state governors: Having digital access to personal health records empowers the individual.
More than a dozen states have launched their own SMART Health Card-based portals. At least seven others — including Arizona, Mississippi and West Virginia — have turned to a third-party, MyIRMobile, to issue SMART Health Cards. Minnesota has chosen Docket, another third-party option.
Most right-leaning states offering SMART Health Cards do it quietly, without any fanfare. But big red South Carolina expects to roll out a portal for SMART Health Cards by the end of March, reports Politico…
Lastly, having a vaccine verification system in place prepares the U.S. for the next coronavirus variant as well as the inevitability of a future pandemic.
Today the main threat to our health and economy remains the omicron variant, says Anderson. “But it’s going to be pi in a couple months, and it’s going to be the same situation. Yes, we’re going to get to an endemic phase of all of this, but that doesn’t change the need to continue to protect the citizens of a nation from highly transmissible and communicable diseases.”
“Vaccination verification will be increasingly important at an international level,” Anderson says. “And so if we want to enable all of our citizens from every state to be able to participate in the safe travel across international boundaries and to participate in international commerce, it’d be important for our government officials from every state to enable this.”
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(Excerpt from Forbes. Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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