Vaccination card as passport to ‘freedom’

Proof of vaccination may allow us to begin resuming our normal activities in the near future.

Even so, the COVID-19 vaccination card is hardly the first of its kind. Some countries, for example, require proof of vaccination for yellow fever, and many public and private schools require that the children enrolled be fully vaccinated.

Photos that display the COVID-19 vaccination card like a badge of honor have been making the rounds on social media for months, but the card is more than fodder for selfies, it could be your ticket to freedom in the coming months — so it should be protected as such.

The logistics around how a “vaccine passport” would work are still up for discussion.

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Ghana airport, Accra

“Nothing has been put into place yet,” said Amesh Adalja, M.D., FIDSA, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.

What these little cards have the potential to do is to make something like international travel easier by avoiding requirements for quarantine or testing.

Vaccine passports are primarily taking shape as free mobile apps where international travelers upload their proof of a vaccination, as well as any necessary coronavirus test results or other health waivers.

The goal is to digitize individual countries’ paper vaccination certificates into internationally recognized passes to travel.

A few options for vaccine passports exist for Americans so far, and other countries and regions have also developed, or are in the process of developing, their own.

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While some people are already fully vaccinated, and some governments are already accepting travelers with proof of vaccination, vaccine passport apps aren’t an option for everyone.


Airport in Europe

Only some travelers can use vaccine passports right now, and mainly for their test results and health waivers on certain airline routes that permit them as a standard.

Since December, passengers have been using CommonPass for testing verification on select flights out of New York, Boston, London, and Hong Kong with United, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International and Virgin Atlantic.

Those options are in addition to previous trial routes for United and Cathay Pacific Flights to London, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

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Meanwhile, IATA’s Health Pass, recently garnered trial use on several international air carriers, including Emirates, Copa, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Outside of those privately developed apps, several countries and regions are creating their own vaccine passports. Malaysia’s Immunitee Health Passport is now accepted by Singapore for entry, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a proposal this week for a privacy-friendly vaccine passport, called the Digital Green Pass, for use in Europe.

Wole Shadare