Dear Mr. President: We need official, digital vaccine passports today!

The U.S. needs a free, official, national digital COVID vaccine passports.

vaccine passport

New York City COVID SAFE digital passport app courtesy New York City and Apple Corporation

The CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is flimsy, perishable, and easily forged. States and cities are issuing their own vaccine passports, each with shortcomings.

In the United States, almost 171 million Americans have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, about 52 percent of the nation. Unfortunately, despite those vaccinations, the U.S. averaged more than 136,100 new daily cases of COVID last week, with 5,633 COVID deaths.

Based on studies like the one presented by Dr. Eli S. Rosenberg, et al, for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we know that COVID vaccinations are extremely effective. In the study of New York residents, from May 3 through July 19, 2021, there were 1,271 new COVID-19 hospitalizations (0.17 per 100,000 person-days) among fully vaccinated adults, compared with 7,308 (2.03 per 100,000 person-days) among unvaccinated adults.

Hospitalizations among the unvaccinated were twelve times higher than among vaccinated people in the study. That is a startling difference.

With the number of COVID cases increasing rapidly, many businesses and foreign nations are demanding vaccination proof.

Daily pandemic cases explode. Numerous US cities, thousands of businesses, and many foreign nations are demanding proof that their employees, customers, and visitors are fully vaccinated. Restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms, arenas, and other businesses and venues clamor for documentation. They want everyone in their businesses and countries to be able to remain as safe as possible. Vaccination does that. It limits infections and their seriousness when those who are vaccinated have a breakthrough infection.

In the U.S., a small, flimsy, lightweight, easily lost or easily destroyed card is our sole proof of vaccination. The data on the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is handwritten and often difficult to read. You can’t laminate it to protect it, because over time more entries will undoubtedly be written on it. It’s extremely easy to forge or fake. As a result, some U.S. states and cities are issuing their own digital COVID vaccine passports to locally prove one’s vaccination status.

Durable, official, verified COVID vaccine passports have become essential for many Americans, particularly travelers.

Durable, official, verified COVID vaccine passports will be needed as the COVID pandemic continues and states, cities and nations wish to return to normal, as safely as possible, over time.

Internationally, the European Union (EU) has an agreement that the member countries will use the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), issued by member nations. It will be used for international travel between member nations. Some non-EU members that are part of the Schengen Area group of countries will also participate using their version of the EUDCC. In addition to Europe, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and other nations plan to use COVID vaccine passports. We need to catch up with the rest of the world.

Many U.S. cities and some states have begun to require vaccination proof for businesses.

Vaccination status verification is quickly becoming more and more prevalent in the U.S. A number of cities are already requiring or getting ready to require vaccination proof for entry to businesses and venues. Some are issuing their own COVID vaccine passports. New York City requires proof of vaccination for restaurants, bars, theaters and other indoor venues. They’ve already issued their own vaccine passport.

Philadelphia is requiring everyone inside businesses to use face masks unless each person inside has proved they are fully vaccinated. San Francisco is requiring patrons at indoor restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues to prove that they are fully vaccinated. Los Angeles is considering a vaccine requirement.

Hawaii has instituted its own COVID vaccine passport program, Safe Travels. New York State is using its Excelsior Pass program for state residents.

There are too many different vaccine passports in the U.S. already. It’s clear a national vaccine passport is needed.

Unfortunately, in the U.S., vaccine requirements and vaccine passports vary significantly. New York’s Excelsior Pass program is essentially only available to New York residents. Visitors can’t use it. New York City’s COVIDSafe digital COVID vaccine passport can be used by residents and visitors, but its information isn’t verified. Hawaii uses the CommonPass. Most states and cities with vaccination requirements have no COVID vaccine passport at all. People there must use the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate.

Already, many travelers have multiple COVID vaccine passports, some secure, some not, some verified, some not, some that work for just one city and some that work in just one state. Some vaccine passports are useful for travel to multiple countries, while others work in only one country. For American travelers, both domestic and international, it’s a mess.

An official national vaccine passport must be secure, easy to use and highly resistant to forgery.

What’s needed in the U.S. is a secure, official, easy to use national COVID-19 vaccine passport, issued by the Federal Government for American travelers and residents to prove their vaccination status whenever needed domestically or internationally. It’s important to understand that by having the federal government issue a COVID vaccine passport, it doesn’t mean that the government is issuing a vaccine mandate. It’s only a means of assisting Americans to show their vaccination status as needed.

The COVID vaccine passport should be as forgery-proof as possible. It should have the recipient’s name, ID photo, vaccination dates/vaccine used, plus a QR code for validation. It should be issued as both a digital wallet certificate for smartphones and a durable plastic card for those who don’t have a smartphone, such as young children.

I call upon the Biden Administration to create a free U.S. national COVID vaccine passport, ready to be issued by the federal government no later than February 1, 2022.