More states adopting digital passports amid uptick in fake vaccination cards 

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

California, New York, Louisiana and a slew of other states are deploying or considering rolling out digital vaccination passports as the U.S. grapples with an increase in fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and the delta variant surge, Politico reported Aug. 30. 

California, New York and Louisiana are deploying SMART Health Cards created by the Vaccination Credential Initiative, a group of health and tech companies including Epic, Cerner, Mayo Clinic and Apple. About a half-dozen more states also are considering rolling out the digital credentials, people familiar with the effort told the publication. 

If enough states adopt the technology, it could be implemented as a nationwide standard and relieve the Biden administration of having to create federal requirements for domestic purposes. Some experts are worried, however, that a lack of federal guidelines could result in unregulated, unreliable tools for verifying vaccination status, which may be further complicated by places that have banned them, such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and Georgia, according to the report. 

"Different states, businesses, venues and universities and colleges may use different platforms that are difficult to transfer information between as people travel between states or even cities," Lucia Mullen, senior analyst at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Politico

In the spring, the Biden administration said it would collaborate with the private industry to create national passport standards but that the government wouldn't issue the credentials or store the data. The White House and HHS' health IT office declined the publication's comment requests. 

Because the standard CDC vaccination cards do not have a scannable QR code to help verify authenticity, and there is no national vaccination database, businesses and others have been relying on the honor system when requesting proof of vaccination. 

As more workplaces and public venues require proof of vaccination, some experts worry that the market for fake cards will grow. The FTC and HHS' Office of Inspector General have seen increases in fraudulent activity, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have reported mass seizures of fake paper cards, according to the report.


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