California Launches Digital Pass For Residents To Prove They’ve Gotten Vaccine

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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California health officials on Friday introduced a system for residents to obtain a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccine record, which can be used at businesses or events that require individuals to provide proof of vaccination.

To access their information, residents can enter into a state website their name, date of birth and cell phone number or email address in order to receive a QR code and digital copy of their vaccine record. Officials said the digital pass includes the same information as the paper cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Erica Pan, the state’s epidemiologist, told reporters during a press conference Friday afternoon that proof of vaccination may already be required in some circumstances such as travel. Pan added that state health officials believe there will be a demand for the digital pass and it will provide an easier way for residents to prove their vaccination status.

“The odds are someone is going to misplace their paper CDC card and a digital COVID-19 vaccine record provides a convenient backup,” she told reporters.

California lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday, one of the last states to do so, according to The New York Times. Vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks at most indoor locations though everyone must continue to wear masks in places such as mass transit and health facilities.

Businesses can choose whether to make mask-wearing optional, require everyone to wear them, or use a vaccine verification system, AP reported.

California health officials stressed Friday the new digital pass is not mandatory, and refrained from using the word “passport” likely due to its politically charged nature. Around two dozen states have banned state-mandated vaccine passports and some states, including Texas and Florida, have banned businesses from requiring vaccines. (RELATED: Is It Legal For Businesses To Require Customers To Be Vaccinated?)

New York announced in March the state would offer an electronic vaccine verification through an app called the Excelsior Pass. The app, which is also free and voluntary, allows users to provide proof of vaccination using their phones.

Lucy Dunn, president of the Orange County Business Council, told AP that many businesses in California want an option for vaccine verification so they can take measures to keep workers and customers safe. She noted that paper records have been easily falsified in the past.

“It helps keep us informed as to who is vaccinated and not,” Dunn said. “It’s voluntary, personal, protected and as easy as adding it to your smart phone’s digital wallet like an airline boarding pass.”