Mar 29, 2021 - Health

The quest to create vaccine passports

Illustration of a passport with a stamp on it shaped like a syringe that reads "vaccinated"
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is working alongside private companies to create "vaccine passports" that would allow Americans to prove they've been vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Many companies have said they'll require proof of vaccination as part of reopening.

  • But creating some form of vaccine passport will be riddled with logistical, technological and ethical challenges.

Where it stands: The administration's effort has been led by the Department of Health and Human Services, and the White House has recently taken a larger role in coordinating the involved government agencies, per the Post.

  • “Our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people's privacy," coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said at a March 12 briefing.

Details: "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," the Post reports.

  • "Americans without smartphone access should be able to print out the passports, developers have said."
  • The Biden administration has identified at least 17 passport initiatives already underway, setting up one of the effort's biggest challenges.

Go deeper: The barriers to vaccine passports

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