Inside the Biden Administration’s current plan to help shape ‘vaccine passports’ in the US

Credit: Inc. Magazine/Getty Images
Credit: Inc. Magazine/Getty Images

The [vaccine passport] initiative has emerged as an early test of the Biden administration, with officials working to coordinate across dozens of agencies and a variety of experts, including military officials helping administer vaccines and health officials engaging in international vaccine efforts.

The passports are expected to be free and available through applications for smartphones, which could display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass. 

U.S. officials say they are grappling with an array of challenges, including data privacy and health-care equity. They want to make sure all Americans will be able to get credentials that prove they have been vaccinated, but also want to set up systems that are not easily hacked or passports that cannot be counterfeited, given that forgeries are already starting to appear.

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Taking time to get the credentialing project right “is very, very important because this has a high likelihood of being either built wrong, used wrong or a bureaucratic mess,” said one official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort. The official said some of the considerations include how to adjust for the spread of variants, how booster shots would be tracked and even questions about how long immunity lasts after getting a shot. There’s “a lot to think through,” the official said.

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