New York and Palm Springs already require proof of COVID vaccination to enter many indoor public spaces. LA City and LA County are both considering it too.
When you get vaccinated, you're supposed to receive a COVID-19 vaccination record card on white paper that you can flash. But what if you don’t have that anymore?
Healthvana is an online medical data company that's teamed up with the LA County Department of Public Health on vaccine records. Ramin Bastani, the company’s CEO, has been working on the project for months.
KCRW: Should you take a picture of the front and back of your vaccination card?
Bastani: “I've certainly suggested that. It doesn't hurt to have another copy of the picture on your phone that you can utilize in that way.”
Can that picture of a vaccination card be used as proof?
“It's going to be up to the person who's checking you in. It depends on where in the country you are, and where you are located.
In Los Angeles County specifically, people have access to a digital vaccination record. Optionally they can put it into their Apple Wallet. They can put it into their Google Pay, which is also a digital wallet. They can also have access to it on the mobile web or even a desktop.”
If you're in Los Angeles, and you're about to get inoculated, you're supposed to receive a text and an email. Does that lay the groundwork for this digital record?
“That's exactly right. For almost everyone who is vaccinated for COVID in Los Angeles ... he or she will receive — sometimes a couple of days later — a text and or email. It's from Healthvana on behalf of Los Angeles County. You would click on that link on your phone. You would then enter your first name, last name, and your date of birth. And within 15 seconds, you have access to a mobile web digital version of your vaccination record. It's the same information.
Then just below that, it'll say, ‘Put this into your Apple Wallet or into your Google Pay,’ if you so choose.’ A few seconds later, it's in there for your storage, just so you can see it whenever you want.”
What if you don't have an iPhone?
“It comes on the mobile web. If you have a smartphone, you can have it and view it on your mobile web. You can take a screenshot of it.
Or if you receive the email, you can certainly do this at a public library, at home, wherever that's internet enabled.”
What if you received the email and you deleted it? Is there some way to go back and retrace your steps to get this digital information?
“Yes, absolutely. If you have any problem whatsoever, you can go to healthvana.com/contact, message us. We get back to people usually within a day or two business-wise.
It's not only for misplacing the email, having deleted it accidentally or whatever it may be. It’s also for people whose phones may be set to internationalization with their day and month flipped around when they register for their vaccination.
It may be that your name is James, not Jim. But you registered in that way.
We help correct a lot of those things so people have an accurate representation of their information. And HIPAA, by the way, allows that. HIPAA makes sure you have 1) a right to a copy of your health information, and 2) an accurate representation of that information.”
Is this a vaccine passport? And if not, how's it different?
“We've been pretty consistent that we don't call it a passport. We believe, first and foremost, this is your information, protected by HIPAA, that you have a legal right to. And this will depend on where in the country you are — whether or not they're calling it a passport.
We think a passport is set by the federal government and enables you to travel overseas. This is information that you have, and you can choose to share if you ever want to.”
What is the difference between this digital record and the California Immunization Registry?
“Los Angeles County was the first in the country to launch anything like this back in December. The California Registry launched in the last month or two.
The program we're talking about is very specific to Los Angeles County. Anyone outside of Los Angeles can use the California Registry, and there's minor differences right now.
You can utilize the California Registry with a QR code. It has the smart health card technology that may be adopted by airlines and other areas in case they utilize this for international travel.”
Do you think that this is just going to become a fact of life temporarily?
“Temporarily, yes. It's not only for ... access to potential venues and bars and things like that, but to know when you may require a booster depending on who you are.
When there was a pause for J&J, the county was able to notify people that there was a pause, and what they should know.
We think a lot of what we're doing is beyond just giving access to patients their information, but also sharing relevant information that's timely and important.”