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What we know about COVID vaccine passports

As a number of nations around the world start to open up their borders to Americans who have been vaccinated, several questions have arisen about how countries around the world will be able to verify whether an individual has had their COVID-19 vaccine or not.

Countries opening up their borders to those who have been vaccinated include Italy, Iceland, Greece and Spain.

How Many Americans Are Able To Travel?

As of Wednesday last week, almost half of the U.S. population have received at least one of their two COVID-19 vaccinations.

As a result, COVID infections continue to drop, which is enabling the country to return to its pre-pandemic norm. Concerts, indoor dining, live sporting events and even international travel are becoming increasingly more feasible.

Currently all travelers entering the US must carry out a Covid-19 test

Do I Need Proof Of Vaccination To Travel?

Currently, federal officials require inbound travellers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result in order to board flights.

For individuals flying out of the country, airlines like United, Delta and American are encouraging travellers to upload health documents online to help reduce delays associated with increased check-in times as a result of COVID checks.

Subsequently, the Biden administration have been urged by the travel industry to create a set of rules or norms for digital health credentials to help lift restrictions which lead to extended wait times at airports. The request has been passed on to the private sector by the government, with federal officials adding that they don’t intend to keep a database of vaccination records as this has been left to each state to monitor.

What Is A Vaccine Passport?

Utilised through a smartphone, vaccine passports are platforms which allow access to an individual’s health data, such as vaccination status and COVID-19 test results.

Although the U.S. is yet to develop a vaccine passport to be utilised across the country, Israel and Denmark have already made their platforms available for international use. Currently, individuals in the U.S. are provided with a CDC-issued card which can be used for proof of vaccination.

Several countries have issued vaccine passports as apps which citizens can download


Do I Need One?

Although not currently mandatory, as attractions and holiday destinations start to open up, vaccine passports are likely to become increasingly useful.

The communications director at Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that, in order to enter the country “certificates may be in paper or electronic format”. Once handed over to border control in Iceland, it is then up to them to “evaluate whether a certificate is valid and will consult a representative of the Chief Epidemiologist as needed.”

So, What Does That All Mean?

At the moment, you don’t need an electronic vaccination passport to travel as they are not available en masse to all individuals globally. They are, however, likely to become increasingly more available and subsequently more useful to gain access to both national events and international travel. It is currently unclear how long these digital passes may be required for.

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