The spring of 2021 is upon us and after over a year of isolation and sheltering in place, the promise of a “new normal” thanks to the vaccine means many are finally ready to resume travel and get back to being together. While millions around the world are getting their COVID-19 vaccine, the concern of vaccine record validity now weighs heavy among many. With so many different methods in place to confirm the legitimacy of these records – digital proof, vaccine passports, as well as the old-fashioned approach of simply relying on a flimsy piece of paper – we’re led to wonder, what’s the best way?
The Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) is a voluntary coalition of public and private organizations committed to empowering individuals with access to a trustworthy and verifiable copy of their vaccination records in digital or paper form using interoperable standards.
We will need a convenient way to access and control our immunization records as individuals begin to return back to work, school, events, and travel. But the world is still far from a universal standard of proof. As stated by The New York Times, “Figuring out how these passes should be used and what they should look like is dividing lawmakers, business leaders, ethicists, designers and health officials.”
To achieve a trustworthy and reliable standard the VCI is committed to leading the development and implementation of the open-source “SMART Health Card Framework” and specifications around what will be considered valid. In addition, the VCI seeks to ensure that convenient access to records crosses the digital divide and does not further exacerbate health inequities, and gives the option for those without smartphones could receive paper printed with QR codes containing W3C verifiable credentials, which ensures the international standards set in place for World Wide Web.
The fact remains that we must all remain vigilant to keep each other healthy and avoid another pandemic surge. And as the world begins to reopen and we are able to move about a bit more, we have to consider the health and safety of all. Thanks to VCI and other organizations like it, we now have the opportunity to once again, “Have vaccine passport – will travel!”