As coronavirus vaccines continue rolling out across the United States, businesses and schools are considering how, and what it will take, to safely resume in-person operations.
Some of the country’s biggest tech firms and health care organizations have joined together to help facilitate that return to “normal.”
The group, called The Vaccine Credential Initiative, wants to ensure that everyone has access to a secure, digital record of their COVID-19 vaccination, like a digital vaccine passport.
This idea would allow people to store it on their smartphones and use it anywhere from airline travel to entering concert venues.
The coalition comprises a broad range of health care and tech leaders including Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, Cerner, Cigna’s Evernorth, Health care software firm Epic and the Mayo clinic, among others.
Although it’s early in the vaccination process, potential use for such technology are already cropping up.
Some companies are even planning to pay their workers to get vaccinated.
Experts expect that states and countries currently requiring negative COVID-19 test results for incoming travelers will eventually also accept vaccination records.
The Vaccine Credential Initiative wants to create an open-source, standard model for how hospitals, pharmacies and clinics administering COVID-19 vaccines make digital records of immunizations, which can be provided to patients who want them.
Immunizations are typically tracked by writing them down on a paper card for people to store with their important records, and are also kept track of in a patient’s electronic medical records.
For one thing, coronavirus vaccination records will need to be more easily transported if people have to use them to access schools, offices and event venues, making a digital record more practical.
The COVID-19 vaccination record also needs to be verifiable and secure in a way that was less important for past vaccination records — otherwise, a person could try to fake having gotten the vaccine by using someone else’s record.
Tech companies like Microsoft and Oracle play a big role in managing the tech infrastructure for many large health care systems, and can build in the standards for COVID-19 vaccine credentials, making sure accurate vaccine data pops up on your smart phone whenever you need it.