Starting this week, residents of Los Angeles County who have received a coronavirus vaccine will be able to store proof in Apple or Google's mobile wallets. The startup Healthvana will be running the program, which will also keep track of whether or not people have received the necessary second vaccine dose.
Immunity passport — The company told Bloomberg that these records could potentially be used to prevent people from entering airplanes, schools, and other places if they don't have proof of immunization.
Many today use their phones to make purchases through NFC or to display an airplane ticket. In theory when you enter a place of business, an employee may soon ask you to show you've received a vaccine and you'll be able to display a card stored on your phone.
Besides standardizing the format of this information, a solution like Healthvana's could simply make it easier for people to keep ahold of their proof. L.A. County is keeping track of all vaccinations and will be providing residents with a paper card with their proof of immunization, but those can be lost. The Healthvana app will also provide people with a reminder when it's time to receive their second vaccine dose.
Privacy concerns — It may all sound a bit dystopian and invasive, but proper vaccination protects everyone who comes into contact with an individual. Vaccinations are already widely required in schools where children are barred from admission if their parents fail to present records of vaccination. Especially as coronavirus vaccine skepticism is on the rise, checking that people entering a busy restaurant are immunized will be crucial. For its part, Healthvana says it stores its data on HIPAA-compliant servers. Claire Jarashow, director of vaccine-preventable disease control at the county's Department of Public Health, said she feels it's safe.
The second vaccine dose will be critical to ensuring people are properly immunized, but medical experts worry that many won't return after their first shot. And “we just don’t have the capacity to be doing hundreds of medical record requests to find people’s first doses and when they need to get their second," Jarashow said. Reminding users through a mobile app will be much easier.
China already uses a digital system of color codes that display on a person's phone and dictate whether or not they should be quarantined or allowed to travel freely. The country has been vague about how the system works, however.