Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Digital patient vaccination records could form the basis of a ‘vaccination passport’

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Patient health information platform Healthvana has partnered with Los Angeles County to provide COVID-19 vaccination tracking to recipients. Primarily, the system will send patients follow-up reminders to return for the required second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

But Healthvana also says its records create verifiable proof of vaccination. This evidence, sometimes seen as a “vaccine passport,” could allow for more secure protocols for public gatherings or other places where the risk of transmission is high as the vaccine becomes more widely available.

In Los Angeles, where the spread of the new coronavirus has reached crisis levels, Healthvana files will supplement the paper reminder cards given to recipients of a first dose of vaccine. Although vaccine records are also kept by medical facilities, county officials tell bloomberg that medical administrators lack the ability to schedule the millions of follow-up doses needed and directly inform patients.

This matters because the two COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use in the United States are not fully effective until after a second dose. Studies based on other multidose vaccines show that a large proportion of patients, especially the elderly, people with disabilities and members of minority groups, do not come back for a second dose. This could slow progress towards the roughly 80% vaccination threshold that health authorities deem necessary to control the pandemic in the United States.

The Healthvana system also creates proof of a completed vaccination sequence which can be stored digitally in a Apple Wallet or similar systems. These systems already provide authenticated and secure storage of official documents such as student cards, Airline company Boarding passesand event tickets.

Secure digital vaccine records could in theory be used to allow safe access to places or activities, such as airlines or public events, where there is a high risk of coronavirus transmission. Healthvana says it is in talks with such facilities about using its certifications for this purpose. However, there is currently no official or national US policy – or broad private sector consensus – on how such a system might work.

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