A coalition of health and tech companies, which includes Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle, is working on an initiative that aims to make it easier for people to access their COVID-19 vaccination records digitally. As people are beginning to get vaccinated against COVID-19, they may need to prove that they’re vaccinated so that they can return to work, school, or to travel, and having an easily accessible digital vaccination record could help with that. The coalition is calling itself the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI).
“VCI’s vision is to empower individuals to obtain an encrypted digital copy of their immunization credentials to store in a digital wallet of their choice,” according to a press release. If you don’t want to use a smartphone, you could receive papers with QR codes containing similarly verifiable credentials.
VCI is working to make the credentials using open and interoperable technology
VCI says it is working to make the credentials using the SMART Health Cards specification, which is designed to let people store immunization or lab results in a digital wallet. (More information about the specification is also available on GitHub.)
But VCI’s press release doesn’t provide a timeline as to when organizations administering COVID-19 vaccines will be able to make these records, so it’s unclear when you’ll be able to actually add one to a digital wallet. And with people in the US already receiving paper cards recording when they get their COVID-19 vaccines, it’s unclear how those records would transfer to VCI’s digital standard, if they can at all.
Another hurdle could be getting health centers to participate, as some providers may have more resources to incorporate these credentials into the vaccination process than others would. And there are also ethical questions about whether a person who can prove they are vaccinated should have more freedoms than someone who is not.
VCI isn’t the first coalition to consider a digital COVID-19 vaccination record. Similar efforts are modeling themselves on existing vaccine documents already required by some countries for entry. (These document vaccinations for diseases like yellow fever or polio.) One effort, by Estonia and the World Health Organization, began developing a digital COVID-19 vaccine certificate in October.