As COVID vaccinations continue to increase, and pressure to reopen countries along with it, the same question has been asked over and over again: how will we track who has been vaccinated? Before COVID shutdown international travel, it was common for travelers to carry vaccine cards (sometimes called “yellow cards”) which showed that they had received whatever vaccinations were required to enter their destination country. Those cards are fairly standardized, something that doesn’t seem to have carried over to COVID vaccinations.
Multiple countries and organizations have created their own cards, both physical and digital, which can be used to show that someone has been vaccinated, however there has been little effort to create a single way of doing so, or even a common standard. As international travel begins to resume, the “COVID passport” has become an increasingly discussion topic. WHO is worried that they will create two classes of people – those have been vaccinated and those who have not (and thus, may be unable to enter a country). Some countries have rejected the idea of requiring proof of vaccination, but how they would be able to reopen their borders safely without needing that proof has not been provided.
Israel has started rolling out passports, and the pass itself or a code representing it can be displayed on your phone. It can also be printed out. The vaccination status of an individual is verified by a healthcare provided, without actually processing a large amount of health data about the person. There is widespread worry about uploading medical information to a mobile application, as that application would become a valuable target. Even if the passport app isn’t hacked, by putting the passports out into the public, without an easy way to verify if they are real or not, it has created the issue of forgeries. Currently, the passports don’t collect a photo of the holder, so nothing is stopping someone from printing out a copy of someone else’s QR code. Without a way to verify that the person with the vaccine passport is the passport holder, the system is not as useful as it could be.