Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle are working on digital vaccination records  01/14/2021 20:12:45   Jay Peters
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

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 theyre 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).

VCIs 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 dont want to use a smartphone, you could receive papers with QR codes containing similarly verifiable credentials.

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 VCIs press release doesnt provide a timeline as to when organizations administering COVID-19 vaccines will be able to make these records, so its unclear when youll 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, its unclear how those records would transfer to VCIs 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 isnt 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.

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