The Covid Vaccination Passport: Free Pass or Pass Altogether…

With so many people receiving vaccinations, there’s been a lot of discussion about issuing a vaccine passport. Essentially, the passport verifies whether or not a person was vaccinated. Most likely the passport will be digital. However, many people now receive a paper record of their vaccination.

In some cases, the passport will grant access to indoor dining, sports events, and concerts. It could become a new travel requirement. Though regarding vaccines and travel, some countries already ready require certain vaccinations for entry. So likely a Covid-19 vaccination won’t be any different in that regard. Many schools and daycares already require students to show proof of certain vaccines. Perhaps adding a Covid-19 vaccine to the list won’t be any different.

Some flags have already been raised about potential discriminations with a vaccine passport. It could discriminate against people that have a legitimate medical exemption. Or against people who don’t have the technology to access a vaccination passport. Or against people who aren’t able to get a vaccine because of shortages. Although many concerns raised about the passport focus on discrimination, my concerns are more from a records and information management perspective. These include: security, protecting private (and personal) information, authenticity, and compatibility.

Furthermore, at this point, nobody knows the long-term frequency of the vaccine. It could become an annual shot. This also makes me wonder about the feasibility of keeping all these vaccine passports updated and maintained. At the moment, developers are already working on new vaccine passport apps. What happens if one of these apps goes out of business? It could become corrupt, or incompatible with newer softwares.

For starters, the information requirements and standards for the vaccine passport should come from an authorized body, preferably a global one. This could help ensure that information is compatible across different systems. This could help with authenticating the passports across cultures and countries. For example, if the vaccine does turn into an annual occurrence, the date becomes significant. Writing the date in a standardized format, e.g., yyyy-mm-dd, could make a significant difference. For example, the US tends to write the date mm-dd-yyyy. Whereas other countries tend to write the date from largest to smallest (yyyy-mm-dd) or vice versa (dd-mm-yyyy). These differences matter for something that is time sensitive.  

Is the passport a good idea? Should the Covid-19 vaccine be treated differently from other vaccinations we already receive?

Stay tuned for future developments.

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