COVID-19

Banking on a vaccine-verification bonanza

Kristin Schwab Sep 30, 2021
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A Nitehawk Cinema worker checks for proof of COVID-19 vaccination on Sept. 8 in Brooklyn, New York. Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images
COVID-19

Banking on a vaccine-verification bonanza

Kristin Schwab Sep 30, 2021
Heard on:
A Nitehawk Cinema worker checks for proof of COVID-19 vaccination on Sept. 8 in Brooklyn, New York. Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

As more companies require vaccines for employment and more cities, states and private businesses require them to travel or dine or see shows, verifying vaccinations has become an important part of work and play.

And because there’s no single federal vaccine passport, companies have created a patchwork of apps, prompting a business of vaccine verification.

In New York, you have to show proof of vaccination to do basically anything fun. Some restaurants and concert venues will accept a photo of the card; others ask you to download a specific app. And if your phone’s dead? No fun for you.

Or you can carry around the clunky paper card that is too large to fit in most wallets. Why does it have to be this way?

“It just is a reflection of our fractured system of public health governance,” said Josh Michaud with the Kaiser Family Foundation. Like mask mandates, he said vaccine certification falls to cities and states.

So companies are stepping in. Clear, the membership program known for its express security lines at airports and stadiums, has free vaccine verification on its app.

“We think there are lots of applications where there are friction in your life. So now you’re not only your vaccination record, but you’re also your ticket,” said Catesby Perrin, Clear’s executive vice president of growth.

Apple and Android devices store vaccine cards, too. It’s all about the growing digital wallet.

“Because of the pandemic, there’s been this acceleration in the shift to digital, and that certainly is going to impact identities,” said Amena Ali, CEO of Airside Mobile, a passport app that also stores vaccine cards.

Airside is looking to expand into storing credit reports and proof of income to pass on to landlords. That’s where the money is — not just with users like you and me, but companies that will pay for reliable verification systems.

“There can be a wide gulf in terms of the actual stringency and the ultimate public health impact,” Kaiser’s Michaud said.

He added that a vaccine policy is only as effective as the system that verifies it.

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