COVID-19 Vaccine Passport

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Day 318: Stay Safe Minnesota

Governments and travel industries have started requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for travelers similar to “yellow cards” requirement.

The New York Times describes a “vaccination pass or passport” as “documentation proving that you have been vaccinated against Covid-19. Some versions will also allow people to show that they have tested negative for the virus, and therefore can more easily travel. The versions being worked on now by airlines, industry groups, nonprofits and technology companies will be something you can pull up on your mobile phone as an app or part of your digital wallet.”

According to the CNN Travel, some countries — including the Seychelles, Cyprus and Romania — are requiring travelers to proof of vaccination to get entry while other like Iceland and Hungary, have allowed entry to people who’ve recovered from Covid-19.

“This raises the prospect that proof of inoculation or immunity could be the golden ticket to rebooting travel and seems good news for people eager to book summer vacations after months of lockdown, particularly as vaccine rollouts gather pace.”

Denmark’s government is reportedly rolling out a “digital passport” to their citizens to show that they have been vaccinated, the Times reports.

Screenshot from CNN Travel

Since many countries have started already requiring proof of a negative test for entry, covid vaccination documentation are essential to restarting the tourism industry, according to Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

One key element vital for the restart of tourism is consistency and harmonization of rules and protocols regarding international travel. Evidence of vaccination, for example, through the coordinated introduction of what may be called ‘health passports’ can offer this. They can also eliminate the need for quarantine on arrival, a policy which is also standing in the way of the return of international tourism.

Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (source: The New York Times)

The CDC is reportedly “looking at all its options” as it considers whether passengers should be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test before domestic flights.

“The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline trade association that represents 290 airlines worldwide, announced on Nov. 23 that it was in the final stages of developing a digital vaccine passport for travelers” writes healthline.

Proof of Immunization

The proof of immunization to certain diseases before entering certain countries is reportedly not a new concept because for decades peoples traveling from ‘certain’ countries “have had to prove that they have been vaccinated against diseases such as yellow fever, rubella and cholera.

For example, proof of the yellow fever vaccination is often required for travelers coming from or going to countries where there’s a risk of that disease, such as Uganda and Brazil.

Everybody who has traveled internationally to countries that require vaccination against malaria, diphtheria and other things has had yellow cards. Parents with kids in public school have had to prove their kids have been vaccinated. This is not something new.

Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Linux Foundation Public Health (source: The New York Times)

“There will be continued efforts by airlines, airports, and the travel industry as a whole to focus on hygienic best practices. That’s a good thing, it’s long overdue, and I think it will persist perhaps even forever” said Dr. Robert Quigley, senior vice president and global medical director of International SOS, a health and security services firm.

Such global plan does not come without some controversies on ‘freedom & fairness” causing global concerns. In the US, President Joe Biden has reportedly asked ‘government agencies to investigate the feasibility of producing digital versions of vaccine certificates in one of his first executive orders’.

The Times writes: “creating long-lasting ethical technology or systems that will not store people’s data, or make it possible to track where they are, takes time”.

Drummond Reed, chief trust officer for Evernym told the Times “The global passport system took 50 years to develop. Even when they wanted to add biometrics to that to make it stronger, that took over a decade to agree on just how you’re going to add a fingerprint or a facial biometric to be verified on a passport. Now, in a very short period of time, we need to produce a digital credential that can be as universally recognized as a passport and it needs an even greater level of privacy because it’s going to be digital.”

COVID-19 Vaccination Watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of Feb 09, 9 a.m.) 62,898,775 doses have been distributed and 43,206,190 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of Feb 07) a total of 732,216 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of Feb 09, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 469,254 (out of 6,808,634 tested) with 6,308 deaths.