In a letter to President Biden yesterday (please see attached), the Good Health Pass Collaborative expressed its disappointment at the administration’s failure to recognize the need for verifiable digital health passes (often generically referred to as digital vaccination certificates) as a precursor to large scale vaccination and testing mandates.
Urgent need for systems
While the letter commended the President for his plan to require employees of companies with more than 100 employees, federal employees, and healthcare workers to be vaccinated, it stressed the urgent need for systems that would enable employers to quickly and easily verify workers’ vaccination or test status.
“Our nation’s digital health infrastructure is woefully insufficient to support the successful implementation of this mandate, no matter how well-intentioned,” said ID2020 executive director, Dakota Gruener.
“The cost and complexity of manually checking vaccination cards is both overwhelming and untenable…[and] without a system to digitally verify proof of vaccination, fraud – on a significant scale – is all but inevitable”
While many countries –and several U.S. states– have already developed vaccination certificate systems, the White House has consistently resisted the notion of a federal certificate or database.
A network of state-run systems
Yesterday’s letter offers an alternative: a network of state-run systems – similar to those already operating in New York and California – built to a common set of open technical specifications and participating in a national trust framework.
Certificates would be issued by states on the basis of vaccination data already available from the 61 state and local immunization information systems (IIS’s) throughout the United States. While such a system would rely on state collaboration, a supplemental federal vaccination certificate could be developed to enable employers to comply with the federal mandate even in states where such certificates have been banned by state law.
A network of state-run systems
Launched in February the Good Health Pass Collaborative brought together more than 125 companies and organizations from the health, travel, and technology sectors to develop principles and technical specifications for digital health passes initially aimed at restoring international travel.
In August, the Collaborative published the Good Health Pass Interoperability Blueprint, which outlines the most comprehensive and robust set of interoperability specifications to date. Developed through extensive, cross-sector collaboration, the Blueprint offers an expedited path toward passes that are privacy-protecting, user-controlled, and globally interoperable and that could support a variety of applications including, but not limited to, international travel.
“We urgently require an internationally-recognised system of health passes enabling travellers to quickly and easily prove their health status, in a secure and privacy-preserving way,” said former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair in a recent New York Times op-ed.
“The Good Health Pass Collaborative is doing vital work to develop the standards necessary to support this. Political leaders should now get behind this.”
The United States – usually a leader in technology innovation – is trailing behind the rest of the world in the development of digital health passes. The Good Health Pass Interoperability Blueprint offers a means to catch up and an opportunity to set a new global standard for privacy, security, and interoperability.
We implore the President to take prompt action to develop a federal plan for digital health passes to support the implementation of the vaccination mandate and ensure that it achieves its desired public health objectives. We simply cannot afford further delay.
ID2020 is a public-private partnership committed to ensuring that digital ID can fulfill its potential as a force for social and economic development, inclusion, and human rights around the world.goodhealthpass.org