Oregon health officials work on voluntary digital vaccine card

Oregon is testing a digital vaccine card that will be voluntary. (Getty Images)

The Oregon Health Authority plans to offer a digital vaccine card to Oregonians next spring.

It is not a passport: The technology is designed as a convenience for people who need to show proof of vaccination on their phone to get into a concert or restaurant, for example.

Alarmist rumors circulating on social media about a mandatory vaccine passport are false, officials said.

“Using the tool is optional,” the health authority told the Capital Chronicle in a statement.

Vaccination against Covid-19 is also voluntary but strongly recommended, especially with the potential threat of a new, highly contagious variant. On Monday, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state epidemiologist, urged Oregonians who hadn’t gotten their shots or a booster to do so.

Businesses in the state can choose to require proof of vaccination. When they do, consumers can show their original card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show a photo of that card on their phone or a printed photocopy or provide an electronic record from a provider.

The digital card is designed as an added resource for anyone to display with an appropriate cell phone. 

“The tool is meant to provide an electronic resource to people who do not have a health care provider and is modeled after a similar tool that is in use in Washington and in California,” the health authority said.

California launched its digital vaccine card in June. In late November, Washington state adopted a similar system. Available in more than 30 languages, the software requires residents to electronically provide their name, birthdate, cell phone or email and a four-digit number. Once the software verifies vaccination status, it emails the user a link to their digital vaccine card to be displayed on their phone. Users do not download an app.

The health authority said it’s using a similar tool. Testing is now underway in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“OHA anticipates making its voluntary tool available for free for anyone in Oregon who chooses to use it in the spring of 2022,” it said.

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Les Zaitz for questions: [email protected]. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

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