California Introduces Electronic Option for COVID Vaccine Records

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California has put in place a COVID-19 vaccine verification system that provides digital replicas of traditional wallet-sized paper cards to make it easier for residents to provide proof of vaccination when needed.

The new portal for accessing electronic records is not the same as a politically controversial vaccination record, but a simple convenience that offers residents an alternative to the physical receipts they may not want to carry around or may have lost.

Residents are not required to receive the electronic records, officials stressed, and there are no settings where the state requires residents to provide proof of vaccination as the only means of entry.

However, after California’s economic reopening, it’s possible that individual companies or venues – or even county health officials – may mandate vaccine verification in certain cases, making a digital option all the more appealing.

“We want this to be made available to anyone who wishes to use it,” said Amy Tong, state chief information officer and director of the California Department of Technology.

Anyone vaccinated against COVID-19 should have received a white paper card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, detailing where and when they received their vaccinations, as well as their vaccine brand.

The new electronic option offers the same information as well as a QR code that can be scanned to confirm authenticity.

Federal data shows that more than 22 million Californians have received at least one dose of vaccine to date. “The chances are good that someone will misplace their physical files,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan on Friday.

“It’s really no different than someone’s vaccination card,” she told reporters. “It’s an optional tool for Californians to make things a little more convenient, and one of many ways to show and verify they’ve been vaccinated.”

The new online portal, accessible via myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov, is based on records maintained and accessible through the state’s vaccination registry systems.

“Right now with the pandemic, people obviously just want their specific COVID records. So this ability builds on the same space, ”said Tong.

The new state website will ask residents to provide their name, date of birth, and an email or cell phone number they used when they were vaccinated.

Residents must also create a personal identification number, which they can then use to access a digital copy of their vaccination record, which is sent to them directly via the registered email address or telephone number.

State officials say those who are having trouble accessing the portal should double check that their information is correct and that they are using an email address or phone linked to their vaccination record. If the problems persist or a record is incorrect or incomplete, residents can call the COVID-19 hotline at (833) 422-4255 or request help online using the virtual assistant at cdph.ca.gov/covidvaccinerecord.

Within two hours of California announcing the new portal, two residents had reached out to The Times to complain that they were having trouble accessing their records and that the troubleshooting systems seemed overwhelmed.

Govin Newsom hinted at the announcement earlier this week – saying that an electronic version of a paper vaccination card would soon be available, although it would not be a “passport” or a requirement.

Officials re-emphasized this point when explaining the new portal, writing that residents “are not required to obtain a digital COVID-19 vaccine record” and that “the state in California will not introduce a mandatory passport system.”

According to California’s reopening guidelines, which went into effect this week, the only place the state might require someone to provide proof of vaccination status as a condition of entry is at an indoor event with at least 5,000 people – like sporting events or a Congress. In this case, however, participants can also submit a negative coronavirus test for participation.

For outdoor events with at least 10,000 participants, proof of vaccination or a negative test is also recommended, but not required.

However, individual jurisdictions, companies, or venues may implement stricter requirements. For example, San Francisco has mandated that if a venue accepts self-certification as proof of vaccination for an indoor event with more than 5,000 people, then everyone within the venue must wear a mask from the age of 2.

A person’s vaccination status also plays a major role in masks.

Starting this week, Californians fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to do without face covering in most situations. Unvaccinated people, on the other hand, still have to mask themselves in public indoor spaces.

According to the state, companies or venues can either allow customers to self-certify they are vaccinated, require all customers to wear a mask, or implement some sort of vaccine verification system.

In addition, the state postponed Thursday to allow most fully vaccinated employees in many workplaces to stop wearing masks while at work. Employers are required to document employee vaccination status when indoors without a mask, but they do not need to keep copies of vaccination cards. and employees can also certify themselves.

The new digital recording would provide a way forward for those looking for some form of verification.

California’s digital record is following in the footsteps of New York, which became the first state in the nation to offer government-issued digital evidence of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative coronavirus test result.

Known as the Excelsior Pass, it was developed by IBM using health data from the state and New York City vaccine databases. Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium have started accepting it, though they also accept the paper CDC vaccination cards.

With the federal government unwilling to develop or endorse a universal digital health passport or app, several tech and health companies are trying to fill the void, including New York-based tech company Clear and Carbon Health, a San Francisco health company with 75 primary and emergency care facilities across the country.

Clear’s digital passport receives vaccination records and negative test results from partner companies such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Atlantic Health System. The pass is accepted by more than 60 organizations in the United States, including MGM Resorts, the San Francisco Giants, NBA arenas, and the state of Hawaii.

Carbon Health facilities are the source of vaccination data and negative test results for the digital passport.

The Times authors, Hugo Martín and Rong-Gong Lin II, contributed to this report.



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