Americans have few options to prove they're fully vaccinated
With the exception of a handful of states that have poured resources into piloting so-called "vaccination record" systems, most Americans have few means of proving that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
If you got your COVID-19 vaccine from vendors like Los Angeles County or Walmart, you can download a record of your doses to your phone. But except in states like New York, which started piloting their Excelsior Pass in March, most states cannot easily provide proof of your doses from Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson smartphones.
"I know there are several states that are implementing something like this now to take advantage of their registry. But widespread acceptance? I don't think this will be feasible in the near future, i.e. at least in the next calendar year," says Rebecca Coyle, Executive Director of the American Immunization Registry Association.
According to Coyle, states have worked for decades to standardize and simplify the exchange of information between their records as people moving across the country wanted to prove to new schools and employers that they had been vaccinated. This year, millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been carefully tracked by state vaccination registers - even across state borders.
However, providing a public portal for residents to quickly check each other's vaccination status is not a priority for some states.
"Is this a short-term problem or is this a long-term problem? I think this needs to be assessed against the resources and funding available. We know that staffing is a big problem in many countries right now. And then there is." the political components that also come into play, "added Coyle.
A handful of states have decided to ban companies from requesting evidence of COVID-19 vaccination. In other states that do not have such a ban, there have been a multitude of counterfeits that imitate the simple 4 x 3 inch cards that were distributed by the federal government.
The Biden government has said for months that it had no intention of creating a national system to track or detect COVID-19 vaccination, as is the case in countries like the UK. Instead, the White House promised last month "to issue some guidelines that will look like a FAQ," but it still has not.
Instead, many U.S. companies and nonprofits plan to bring their own consumer-friendly options to market. They rely on technical specifications from private sector efforts such as the Vaccine Credential Initiative, which promises "open, interoperable standards".
"It's a messy process, to be honest. It's done in what is called a standards development organization. We work with HL7 and the FHIR community, and all of this is done in public," says Dr. Brian Anderson, co-founder of the Vaccine Credential Initiative (VCI).
According to Anderson, the group's standards set out how vaccines can digitally provide and verify a record of the recordings they make, and also enable paper-based copies of credentials - like an airline boarding pass - that could one day be scanned and verified at a ballpark or a ballpark a restaurant.
According to Anderson, Epic, the electronic health record company, which claims to have 250 million patients around the world, plans to roll out VCI's SMART Health Card specification in the next few weeks. Cerner, one of Epic's biggest competitors, plans to use it by next month.
"It's not about creating vaccination records. It's about giving individuals the ability to keep their own health records and tell their own story. At the same time, hopefully, people should be able to participate more safely in the reopening of businesses or economies," said he Anderson.
Currently, the lack of a widely available system poses a challenge to local health officials and businesses as they consider how to introduce new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommend that only fully vaccinated Americans wear Setting of masks is allowed in most public situations.
"Today's CDC masks announcement creates confusion for retailers as it does not fully align with state and local orders," Lisa LaBruno, senior executive vice president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in a statement Thursday.
According to LaBruno, retailers were "stuck in incredibly difficult situations" between "conflicting positions" of federal and local leadership.
President Biden on Thursday downplayed concerns about the "very simple" recommendation, saying he believed "the vast majority of Americans care about the safety of their neighbors".
"If you haven't been vaccinated, wear your mask for your own protection and to protect people who haven't been vaccinated either. It's not an enforcement issue. We're not going to go out and arrest people." President Biden said.
In the United States, cases have decreased as a growing proportion of Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than a third of the entire US population has completed their vaccine dose, according to the CDC, and more than 46% received at least their first dose.
However, the models released by the CDC also warned earlier this month of further deadly waves of the pandemic that could "undermine" the nation's progress if unvaccinated people stopped wearing masks. Americans who hadn't been vaccinated were less likely to wear a face mask, according to recent polls.
"If things get worse, there is always a chance that we will have to change these recommendations. However, we know that the more people who are vaccinated, the fewer cases we will have," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a briefing on Thursday.
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