As the United States grapples with the daunting logistics of rolling out a massive vaccination program for all citizens, starting with those who are most vulnerable, a major issue is just beginning to be discussed: how will we verify whether someone has been vaccinated or not?
This could become required, in the future, for taking an airplane or being hired for a customer-facing job. While we do not require vaccination, proof of vaccination will certainly allow people to flow more freely through society without putting others at risk. It is clear that current methods of tracking vaccination history are not up to the task of this quickly evolving challenge for our country.
There will certainly need to be one or more methods for people to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus. Initially, a small paper signed by a doctor will probably be the only “proof” which vaccinated individuals will receive. But it is likely that this “old-school” method will quickly prove inadequate in the digital age.
What is a Covid-19 Vaccination ID Card?
One important element will certainly be a digital certificate of some sort, stored on peoples’ smartphones, which will be able to unequivocally confirm vaccination for that individual. But what about people without a smartphone, such as the elderly in senior care facilities? Another key element will certainly be a traditional plastic ID card, similar to current driver’s licenses, which would be carried in the wallet and available to confirm Covid-19 vaccination history with a high degree of reliability.
A high-quality wallet ID card would be a widely-accepted method of validating the date and the type of vaccine received. To avoid fraudulent copies, such a PVC plastic card would have similar security features as drivers licenses, which are universally accepted. While a certain number of illicit cards might come out over time, just as there are “fake id’s” which look like real driver’s licenses, this is a problem which can be minimized through various overt and covert methods. A very common method, used by nearly all States for driver’s licenses, is the addition of a holographic overlay which makes it extremely difficult to make a legitimate-looking copy.
It would also be easy to print a QR code on each card which can be scanned with any phone to look up the card-holder’s vaccination history on a secure, authoritative website. InstantCard has been printing secure ID cards with QR codes for many years, and could quickly implement such a program for COVID Vaccination Cards.
How can one ensure the authenticity of a Vaccination Card?
It will be critical to ensure that only the bearer of the card can use his or her own card. While credit cards can potentially be used by someone who is not the owner of the card, if one knows the PIN number, this is not acceptable for secure IDs like driver’s licenses or passports. Driver’s licenses always carry the photo of the bearer, which offers a quick and easy method to validate the person presenting the card. Similarly, a secure Covid-19 vaccination card would certainly have to carry a high-quality photograph of the person.
Additional security could be added through the use of NFC (Near Field Communications), an RFID technology which would allow encrypted data stored in a chip in the card to be read by apps on smartphones.
InstantCard has been printing photo ID cards on-demand since 2007, and has developed very advanced cloud-based services to obtain high-quality photos of individuals, and to print them quickly and securely on PVC cards. This is a technology which can be readily made available to partners in the health care industry which are addressing the problem of vaccination verification.
Addressing the distribution of Covid-19 Immunity Cards
Another challenge to be faced is distributing these ID cards to the appropriate person after the 2nd dose of the vaccine has been administered. InstantCard has, for many years, provided systems to print ID cards and drop-ship them to the homes of people throughout the country, and in fact already does so on a daily basis for many major national ID card programs. In most cases, once a person qualifies for an ID card in one of our partners’ systems, an automated request is sent to our servers, via API (Application Program Interface) and our SaaS service takes it from there. The cards are produced, an accompanying custom letter is printed, and the package including any additional materials is mailed out directly to the individual’s home within 24 hours.
Planning ahead to meet the need of a Vaccination ID Card
Our society is in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, and we need to plan ahead to cover all angles of how we will defeat the Coronavirus pandemic. One important aspect of this will be the ability to efficiently and reliably verify whether anyone has received a vaccine. We need to work together to develop solutions using available technologies, and InstantCard stands ready and able to assist.