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EU officially launches digital vaccine passport

It shows proof of vaccination, negative test result, or past infection

The European Union’s digital COVID-19 certificate officially launched today. The certificate allows people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, a recent negative test result, or a past COVID-19 infection.

The certificate, which includes a QR code and digital signature, can either be displayed on a digital device or printed out. People who have the certificate should not have to get an additional COVID-19 test or quarantine when traveling in the EU. The certificate only recognizes COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the EU — that includes the AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson shots.

Some countries in the EU have already been issuing and recognizing the certificate. Germany, for example, said in mid-June that it had already issued 5 million certificates. There will be a six-week phase-in period to get the rest of the EU member countries online.

Countries not in the EU, like the UK, have started rolling out their own systems. England has its own COVID-19 pass through the National Health Service (NHS), which can also show proof of vaccination, recent test result, or past infection. People in Scotland and Wales can get a paper version. The EU does not currently recognize the NHS pass, although some individual countries within the EU do, and that could change as countries work to make the systems compatible.

Some states in the United States (like New York) have their own COVID-19 vaccine certificates. Walmart rolled out a digital record for people who were vaccinated at its stores. But there isn’t a nationwide system in the US. In March, the Biden administration was working on plans to organize and streamline the various certificate projects. Google announced yesterday it was adding support for vaccine cards to Android.