As businesses try to reopen, the Biden administration and private companies are working to create a standard way of managing certificates, dubbed “vaccine passports,” that would allow Americans to prove they’ve been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. Vaccine passports are well on their way, but producing them will be difficult—that’s why a White House-led campaign is attempting to bring together more than a dozen initiatives for the facilitation of their creation.
President Biden’s promise that the country will begin to return to normalcy this summer has fueled the initiative, with an increasing number of businesses — from cruise lines to sports teams and concert halls — stating that they will demand evidence of vaccination before reopening their doors.
According to five officials, the administration’s initiative has been primarily directed by branches of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office dedicated to health information technology. According to one official, the White House took on a bigger role this month in coordinating government agencies involved in the work, led by coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients, with the intention of announcing updates in the coming days.
The program has become a litmus test for the Biden administration, with officials collaborating across hundreds of departments and a wide range of experts, including military officials assisting with vaccine administration and health officials participating in foreign vaccine initiatives. The passports are supposed to be free and accessible through smartphone applications that display a scannable code similar to that of an airline boarding pass—let’s pause for a second and think about how cool that is. Developers also confirmed that Americans without mobile access should be able to print the passports. New York has already launched a digital vaccine passport.
Other countries are speeding up their passport plans, with the European Union promising to issue digital certificates> in time for summer travel. Officials in the United States say they are concerned with a range of issues, including data protection and healthcare equity. They want to ensure that all Americans can obtain proof of vaccination, but they also want to set up systems that are not easily compromised or passports that cannot be counterfeited, given that forgeries are already appearing.
All in all, this seems to be such a promising move towards ending the pandemic. As NYC and more states started opening up eligibility to more age groups, it feels like we may actually have a normal summer this year (and I honestly can’t wait).
Photo via Getty