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Digital Empowerment: California’s Digital Covid-19 Vaccine Record Portal

As we approach year two of COVID-19 regulations and move towards an endemic response to COVID-19, vaccines and vaccines regulations are of top priority as we move towards normalcy. Vaccine records are imperative to the operations of many businesses and schools as we move forward. The standard for the entire United States for COVID-19 immunization record-keeping was to receive a small paper stock card with details such as date of immunizations and vaccine type (Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson, and Johnson & Johnson) instead of creating a federal immunization data center. As more and more people began getting fully inoculated with one of the COVID-19 vaccines, many businesses such as restaurants, live performance venues, and athletic stadiums began requiring attendees to show proof of vaccination for entrance as part of their COVID-19 safety protocols.

 In the interest of making it easier for Californians to access their vaccination records and show proof of vaccination, the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Technology in the summer of 2021 created a digital vaccination system through the state’s immunization registry through

The digital COVID-19 vaccine record is easy to use: a person enters their name, date of birth, and an email or mobile phone number associated with their vaccination appointment. After creating a 4-digit PIN, the user receives a link to their vaccine record that will open upon entering the PIN. The digital vaccine record shows all the same information that the CDC paper vaccine card provides—name, date of birth, vaccination type, and date of vaccinations—with the added addition of a QR code unique to each individual that is readable by QR program. Once the user has access to their digital COVID-19 vaccine record, people can choose to download the image and save it to their phones or iPhone user can save the vaccination record to their digital wallet. 

This digital program empowers Californians to access their official immunization data securely and conveniently. It is also one of the first widely used, government-sponsored data access systems that has proved to be incredibly convenient to users and has helped normalize the process of showing proof of vaccination. As we grapple with the effects of COVID-19, we can begin to imagine a future where digital vaccination systems become the norm and are used for other types of immunizations for schools, or perhaps we move towards a future where physical proofs of identity like a state-issued driver license become digital.

Photo Credit: California Department of Public Health