Puerto rico government

A national vaccine pass has been quietly rolled out – and red states are getting on board

EEven as the omicron variant loosens its grip on the world, destinations continue to require travelers to show proof of vaccination. And, increasingly, a CDC paper vaccination card just isn’t enough.

Although the United States government has not issued a federal digital vaccine pass, a national standard has nonetheless emerged. To date, 21 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico offer accessibility to SMART health carda verifiable digital proof of vaccination developed thanks to the Vaccination Certificate Initiative (VCI), a global coalition of public and private players, including Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, the Mayo Clinic and other health and technology heavyweights.

And very soon, at least four more states will be rolling out access to SMART Health Cards. “We’ve seen a noticeable increase in states that have officially launched public portals where individuals can obtain verifiable immunization credentials in the form of SMART health cards with a QR code,” says VCI Co-Founder Brian Anderson. and Head of Digital Health. doctor at MITER.

There is already an impressive availability of SMART Health Cards in the United States. More than 200 million Americans can now download, print, or store their immunization records as a QR code. When the QR code is extracted, only the person’s name, date of birth, and vaccination information are visible. No other medical information or personal data is shared. This code is also digitally signed to ensure the card was issued from a verified location and to prevent tampering.

SMART Health Cards Make Travel Easier

For individuals, the advantages of having access to a personal digital vaccination record are threefold. First of all, it’s a huge advantage for travel in the United States and abroad.

Many indoor cultural attractions and performance venues in the United States require proof of vaccination. “We believe this gives people peace of mind when the people around them are not likely to be contagious,” says Gus Warren, CEO of Connecta health verification app that allows sites to check the vaccination status of customers.

Bindle’s growing list of customers spans more than 30 states, from blue strongholds like California and New York to redder ones like Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Missouri and Georgia. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, for example, there is a Bindle lane that offers fastpass-like efficiency in scanning QR codes from a number of vaccine verification platforms used around the world.

“The SMART health card is such an important development and the Vaccine Credential Initiative has been phenomenal in spreading it,” says Warren, noting that while Bindle recognizes several interoperable standards, the SMART health card has emerged as the most important. “Absolutely, it’s become the norm in the United States and North America.”

“And internationally, we continue to see strong interest in a coordinated international approach,” says Anderson. “And it hasn’t diminished at all. I rather think the opposite. »

Need to know: All Canadian provinces have now adopted SMART health card verification, as have Aruba, the Cayman Islands, Singapore and Japan. And in Africa, the SMART health card has been rolled out in Kenya and Rwanda, only the first of the 32 African countries in the “Smart Africa” alliance to adopt a digital approach to health records.

The case of the red states

The second argument for adopting a digital vaccine verification system is one that is influencing governors in red states: digital access to personal health records empowers the individual.

More than a dozen states have launched their own portals based on the SMART Health Card. At least seven others – including Arizona, Mississippi and West Virginia – have turned to a third party, MyIRMobile, to issue SMART health cards. Minnesota chose Roleanother third-party option.

Most right-wing states offering SMART health cards do so quietly, without fanfare. But South Carolina’s big red plans to roll out a portal for SMART Health Cards by the end of March, reports Politics.

‘It’s not a passport,’ South Carolina immunization director says Politics. “It’s basically a Covid card that people get at their convenience because it’s their file.”

Utah was one of the first red states to jump on the SMART Health Card bandwagon. For former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, a Republican who was health and human services secretary in the George W. Bush administration, the issue comes down to individual rights. “There’s always a question about who owns the data and who has access rights to that data,” Leavitt said at a recent SMART Health Maps Global Forum. “But one thing is indisputable. And that is to say that I have the right to have my own data. And to have it in a form that makes it easy for me to present it for the kind of things I want to do.

“The idea of ​​being able to have reliable copies of your own health records is not a red or blue state issue,” echoes Anderson. “It’s individual empowerment of your own health data. What we are going to see over the next month is an increasing number of red states recognizing and appreciating the importance of empowering their individual citizens in their states.

This will not be the last pandemic

Finally, having a vaccine verification system in place prepares the United States for the next variant of coronavirus as well as the inevitability of a future pandemic.

Today, the main threat to our health and our economy remains the omicron variant, says Anderson. “But it’s going to be pi in a few months, and it’s going to be the same situation. Yes, we are going to come to an endemic phase of all of this, but that does not change the need to continue to protect a nation’s citizens from highly communicable and communicable diseases.

“Vaccination verification will be increasingly important internationally,” says Anderson. “And so, if we want to enable all of our citizens in every state to be able to participate in safe travel across international borders and participate in international trade, it would be important for our government officials in every state to allow that. ”

Where else to get a SMART health card

Given the political landscape, Anderson acknowledges that some states may never board. “We’re not going to have all 50 states leveraging this approach,” he says. “But the vast majority of vaccinated people in the United States — more than 200 million of them — already have the option of picking up one of those credentials.”

This includes anyone vaccinated at any branch of Walmart, Sam’s Club, CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens, Costco, Kroger, Rite-Aid or any of the dozens of other companies participating in the retail pharmacy program. To access an electronic version of your vaccination record, log on to the brand’s Covid online portal where you were vaccinated.

And whether your status is red or blue, your healthcare provider is increasingly likely to offer a digital vaccination record. More than 100 large health systems and hospital groups across the country are now offering SMART health cards to patients. These include Kaiser Permanente, Tenet Health, Scripps Healthcare, Cerner and other healthcare heavyweights. The SMART Consortium’s large regional healthcare groups span the country, from Centra Health in Virginia to UCHealth in Colorado and from CoxHealth in Missouri to SoutheastHEALTH in Alabama and Georgia.