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Tech companies building apps to prove vaccination status to return to work, travel

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Posted at 7:55 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 08:56:04-05

Once a person is vaccinated against COVID-19, how can they share that information?

Now that vaccinations have started and there is hope on the horizon of non-essential workers returning to work and traveling more often, there is a rush for tech companies to build systems to reveal a person’s vaccination status.

Sharing vaccination information is nothing new, some countries require immunization proof for diseases like polio, yellow fever and others. The concept of a passport or other form of identification for those who have immunity to the coronavirus has been in discussion since the pandemic started.

In November, the International Air Transport Association, a trade association representing 290 airlines around the world, said it was in the final stages of developing a digital vaccine passport for travelers. The IATA’s Travel Pass would allow travelers to share their vaccination status and COVID-19 test results with airlines and border authorities.

Another option, CommonPass, was created by the nonprofit The Commons Group and the World Economic Forum. They described the challenge facing countries who want to reopen their borders is availability of “trusted, verifiable health status information.”

“At present, COVID-19 test results are frequently presented on printed paper - or photos of the paper - from unknown labs, often written in languages foreign to those inspecting them. There is no standard format or certification system for lab results. Similarly, vaccination records are still generally shared on easily-forged paper cards,” reads the CommonPass website.

CommonPass has already partnered with several international airlines and health systems, according to CNN.

Large companies are also getting into the game. IBM developed an app called Digital Health Pass which can track not only vaccination data, but other criteria an employer establishes, such as COVID-19 test results and temperature checks.

Earlier in the pandemic, Apple and Google partnered to develop a system that notified users if they’d been exposed to someone with COVID-19 by using Bluetooth technology. And information from Apple’s Health app is used by other apps to track vaccines and health data.

World organizations are working to ensure consistent standards and information across apps to ensure they can be used across borders.

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