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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Europe seems poised to set the global standard for vaccine passports, now that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has signaled that vaccinated Americans will be allowed to travel to the continent this summer.

Why it matters: Opening up travel to vaccinated Americans will bring new urgency to creating some kind of trusted means for people to prove they've been vaccinated.

The big picture: There will probably never be a single credential that most people use to prove they've been vaccinated, for every purpose.

  • But the EU's system will help set a standard for a proof of vaccination that's both easily accessible and difficult to forge.
  • The U.S. is being closely consulted on the European passport, so any future American system will likely use similar protocols.

Details: Informal mechanisms like simply asking someone whether they're had a shot can suffice in many situations. A system for international travel will likely be far more stringent. And there's a wide middle, too.

  • Other activities that don't need the same rigorous standards as international travel could rely on the CDC's vaccination cards; options like a printed QR code, similar to what's been proposed by PathCheck; or a digital QR code, like the ones created by CommonPass or the Vaccine Credential Initiative.
  • There may be some state-issued credentials, like the Excelsior Pass in New York.
  • A national credential is theoretically possible, and could be linked to the biometric information that already exists on many chipped passports — the World Health Organization is working with Estonia to develop something along those lines — but that would meet steep political resistance in the U.S.

The bottom line: The world of vaccine passports is almost certainly going to end up as a mishmash of different credentials for different activities, rather than a single credential used by everybody for everything.

Go deeper: Americans will likely have to navigate a maze of vaccine "passports"

Go deeper

West Virginia will offer $100 savings bonds to young people who get vaccinated

Jim Justice in 2010. Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

West Virginia will begin offering $100 savings bonds to people aged 16 to 35 who get vaccinated, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced on Monday.

Why it matters: The initiative is meant to incentivize people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Just last week Justice said the state had "hit a wall" with vaccinations, and was having particular difficulty convincing young people to get the shot, local news station WBOY reported.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Apr 26, 2021 - Health

Vaccine hesitancy remains high among essential workers

Eugenio Brito, Vice President of Bodegas of America receives a Pfizer vaccination shot at an event to announce five new walk-in pop-up vaccination sites for New York City Bodega, grocery store and supermarket workers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Photo: by Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images

Essential workers who are not in health care are less likely to want a vaccine than the rest of the general public, according to new figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Why it matters: As vaccines become more available, health officials are increasingly grappling with vaccine hesitancy, particularly among those most at risk.

Updated 10 mins ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

📺: The Olympic events to watch today; Olympics opening ceremony ratings plunge

🏊: Athlete spotlight — Katie Ledecky adds to Games career medals haul; Caeleb Dressel wins gold.

🏀: U.S. Men's basketball suffers first Olympic loss since 2004

🤖: The robot Olympics

🚨: Heat wave brings scorching temperatures to Tokyo Olympics

🎤: Meet the new faces of NBC's Olympics coverage

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

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