We keep track of covid vaccine apps rolling out in the US, and some of the ways people can now prove they’ve been vaccinated. But there is a lot of conflicting and confusing information, and many developers are struggling to deliver the solution. Here we have gathered answers to some common questions.
What is a digital vaccination information? Is it the same as a vaccine passport?
Digital vaccination information is a way to show that you have been vaccinated against covid by using an app on your phone (instead of a paper record). States have a wide range of policies and plans related to this type of credentials, which are also sometimes known as vaccine passports.
Some states have their own apps at times when vaccine protection is needed, such as New York’s Excelsior Pass, New Jersey’s Docket and myColorado. Louisiana’s LA Wallet app, which also has a driver’s license, can store covid credentials. How states associate digital credentials with immunization records may vary. For example, California sends a QR code to vaccinated individuals who fill out a form to verify their identity. Some states and territories have partnered with MyIRMobile, including Arizona, DC, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia. Governors and legislators in some states – such as Alabama, Florida, Montana and Texas – are actively opposed to requiring vaccination certificates.
To find out where each state stands for requiring vaccination information and to provide the means to digitize it, check out the Tech Review’s guide to covid vaccine apps in the United States.
Why do I want an app on my vaccine protection phone?
Some experts have pointed out that vaccine evidence on a telephone is not as reliable as the proven paper card from the CDC. It may be, but it is a good alternative or supplement to carry a vaccine card everywhere. Digital proof does not necessarily mean you install a new app: A photo or scan of the paper card stored on your phone does so in some places. The latest version of Apple’s Health app, for iOS 15, will be able to store health records – including covid vaccination evidence.
Be aware that while apps may be a convenient way to store vaccine status information, experts warn of potential data protection risks, as this technology is relatively new and is rapidly rolling out.
Getting around the city
Do I have to show proof of vaccination in my everyday life – for example if I want to eat indoors at a restaurant?
Most cities in the United States do not have vaccine requirements for indoor dining. New York City was the first to announce mandates, and it is still one of the few that does. It requires proof of at least one dose of vaccination for access to restaurants, gyms and other indoor entertainment venues such as theaters, museums and more. San Francisco and New Orleans followed suit, with the former taking a tougher stance, demanding that patrons be fully vaccinated. Similar mandates are planned for the Los Angeles and Seattle region in October.
Some individual restaurants now require patrons to show proof of vaccination. To find out if you need to carry your vaccination certificate for dinner, check if the restaurant is on the OpenTables card, or check with the venue.
Are companies legally allowed to require vaccination proof of entry?
Yes. Restaurants, gyms, theaters, and some other types of businesses in cities like New York and Los Angeles want to make sure their patrons are vaccinated. Although this has not become common practice outside of some major cities, private companies able to legally ask for proof of vaccination before providing service.
Can companies ask their employees for vaccination insurance? What about schools?
It is legal for companies and governments to require employees to be vaccinated as long as they allow exceptions for medical or religious reasons. Many companies are already demanding that workers be vaccinated, and others are following suit.
While teachers and staff in many school districts have been required to be vaccinated, the rule has not covered students in most areas. Los Angeles is the first major school district to mandate covid vaccines for students ages 12 and older who attend the class in person. Covid vaccines for children under 16 have not yet received full FDA approval. Once the approvals come through, several states or school districts may include the covid vaccine in their lists of required vaccinations. An increasing number of colleges and universities require vaccination.