Photo by Sara Bakhshi on Unsplash

Vaccine Passports are in everyone’s best interest

If I had a physical store I would absolutely require that anyone wanting to enter without a face mask would have to show that they’ve been vaccinated against Covid. (I’m even more strict when it comes to my home: double face mask, gloves and shoe covers. Face shield, too, if you can swing it and/or I have an extra.) I have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure the health, well-being and safety of myself, my employees and my customers. The same goes for weapons. I don’t care if you have a permit from the State to carry a gun, open or concealed. In my store no guns, no knives, no weapons of any kind are allowed. My store, my rules. Also, I’m not so selfish that I don’t give a flying flip about anyone else.

I know I’m not the only one. This will be our new reality for quite some time. And, anyone who wants to equate Vaccine Passports, or whatever we collectively decide to call them, as the same thing as in Nazi Germany or Communist countries with their “Show me your papers” bullshit and gold Stars of David needs to get a grip on reality. Proving that you’ve been vaccinated to gain entry into a public space is in no way the same thing as proving your identity, ethnicity and religious affiliation to a thug authority. It is, however, the same banal thing as so many schools require, prove that your child has been vaccinated against various serious and deadly diseases, otherwise they can’t set foot in the school. It’s the same thing as showing proof of age to get into bar or buy liquor at the store. We’ve all done it, and none of us have been harmed (well, accept for the first time in your 30’s when you get ID’ed at the grocery checkout for that handle of Jack). In fact, I would bet the majority of people think it’s a good thing, completely non-intrusive, and at the end of the day gives them all peace of mind.

Do I worry that a Vaccine Passport can be abused? Absolutely, but as we are reminded daily anything that is a part of who and what we are, from skin color to ethnicity, from religious affiliation to sexual orientation, from gender identity to job title, can and will be used against us, especially outside a court of law. On the other hand, as with a driver’s license, possessing a piece of paper (or a digital version) that shows that I’ve been vaccinated just shows other people that I’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure my and other’s health and safety. And, just like a driver’s license a Vaccine Passport indicates that I’m more than likely safe to be around. If you knew someone didn’t have a driver’s license and you saw them get behind the wheel and try to drive off, what would you do? Call the cops? Try to stop them? I’d try to stop them, if I were able. Barring mitigating circumstances I’d call the cops, especially if it were a kid, or someone I knew was a danger to themselves and others when behind the wheel. Anything else is just selfish.

My biggest concern, especially in the near term, is that whatever form these Vaccine Passports take (Vaccine Receipts? Vaccine Guarantees? Vaccine IDs?), be it digital, paper, or a combination of both, it will be easy to fake and easy to hack. I do believe, though, that just like with driver’s licenses, or birth certificates, there will be ways to authenticate the legitimacy of a person’s vaccination record. As a 20+ year veteran of the tech world I’m an advocate of an analog solution (thanks, Facebook!). I do think, and I know this is controversial, even in my own mind, that there will need to be some sort of government involvement in creating legitimate vaccination records (maybe that’s what we call them, Vaccination Records). Possibly like a driver’s license, it would be issued by the State. Or, the record is issued by a doctor, hospital, pharmacy, or the body that oversaw your vaccination, but verified by the State. That said, I don’t believe the Federal Government should be involved in this, at all. Ok, with one exception, and that would be if and when the various States (I’m looking at you, GOP strongholds) face-plant on the rollout. But, again, if various States and territories can all get on board with driver’s licenses then I don’t see a logical reason as to why they couldn’t coordinate and get on board with Vaccination Records.

Wherever we find ourselves in the next year or two, or more realistically five, I firmly believe that right now, today, tomorrow, and the next twelve months will see a hodgepodge of requirements, formats and issuers. Be ready for multiple apps, fractured regulations, and remembering which store, airline, cruise line and restaurant chain requires your vaccination record before entering or boarding. And, remember which one wants you to use their app and only their app, and which one will take the paper card (laminated or not). It’s going to be a mess, but one I’ll be happy to work with in the near future. That said, while patience is a virtue, mine will only hold out so long. We will need to get to a cohesive, workable, efficient place both in verified official vaccine records and regulations around when and where you’ll need to show them, relatively quickly. Covid-19 isn’t going away, and with so many people, both here in the US and abroad, reluctant and/or outright refusing to get vaccinated, it will be in everyone’s best interest if there is an official way to know who’s been vaccinated, and if boosters are needed going forward, when those were given. The world has changed, and if the scientific hunches are correct that Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, the change is irrevocable. It’s a new world, now let’s work together to figure out how to navigate the new terrain while keeping ourselves, loved ones, friends, neighbors and strangers alike safe and healthy.



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