Why would I need a vaccine pass or passport?
As more people are inoculated, there will likely be aspects of public life in which only people who have been vaccinated are allowed to participate. Take the upcoming Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fla., where a significant portion of attendees will be vaccinated health care workers. (Mr. Careen of I.A.T.A. said that sporting organizations, concert venues and tourism agencies have all reached out for identification tech support.)
In order to travel internationally, government and health authorities will need to know if you have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus. Many countries are already requiring proof of a negative test for entry. Such passes could be essential to restarting the tourism industry, said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
“One key element vital for the restart of tourism is consistency and harmonization of rules and protocols regarding international travel,” he said in an email. “Evidence of vaccination, for example, through the coordinated introduction of what may be called ‘health passports’ can offer this. They can also eliminate the need for quarantine on arrival, a policy which is also standing in the way of the return of international tourism.”
Dakota Gruener, executive director of ID2020, a global public-private partnership, said that there are three scenarios regarding digital credentialing for the coronavirus response. The first, which is largely off the table, is the creation of immunity certificates. These are documents that would show that people have developed some kind of immunity to the virus. The second scenario is being able to prove you’ve tested negative for the virus; the third is being able to show that you have been vaccinated. The last two scenarios, experts agree, are the most important for getting the travel industry going again.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest from airlines, airline industry groups, customs and border control agencies and travelers, all saying, ‘how do I safely get on a plane or as a condition of entry into a country, get on a train, whatever the case may be, and prove that I have been tested or vaccinated?’” Ms. Gruener said.
Ms. Gruener is one expert in a World Health Organization-sponsored group tasked with establishing global standards for digital vaccination certificates.