Several prominent American companies are throwing their support behind plans to roll out digital immunization passports as COVID-19 vaccines are distributed worldwide. The World Health Organization is already at work establishing standards for digital certificates, and "digital wallet" systems capable of supporting vaccination certificates are already in testing or have been previously released to the public.
The Vaccination Certification Initiative was formed last week between a wide variety of tech and health companies. Among the members of the VCI are Microsoft
"This process needs to be as easy as online banking. We are committed to working collectively with the technology and medical communities, as well as global governments, to ensure people will have secure access to this information where and when they need it," said Oracle Vice President of Global Business Units Mike Sicilia in a press release.
Easily accessible yet securely protected digital certificates would be used to allow properly vaccinated individuals to travel more freely, bringing a sense of returning normalcy that many around the world are pining for. The technology is mostly in place already in the form of digital wallets, which are capable of storing debit/credit cards and items such as airline tickets. Creating a universal specification for digital passports and the successful deployment of a digital certification program would enable travelers to use their digital wallets to safely store their vaccine certificate on any mobile device in a similar fashion.
There are, however, concerns regarding the deployment of any such system. Privacy concerns have been circulated as well as concerns over the disparity of access to vaccines by Black, Latino, and Native American populations. LJ Tan of the Immunization Action Coalition said he felt that it was "premature" to discuss how to distribute vaccine certificates.
Latino, Black, and Native American populations have been hit hard by the pandemic and are already struggling to access vaccines. Newly sworn-in President Joe Biden has already announced that one of his first major moves in the Oval Office will be to expand vaccine production and increase its availability, stating he wants 100 million Americans vaccinated in 100 days may help alleviate access disparity.