Paper Cards and Digital Codes Target Vaccination Chaos

Post Syndicated from Jeremy Hsu original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/paper-cards-and-digital-codes-target-vaccination-chaos

Other than Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout around the world has had a rocky start. Some like Canada and the European Union have suffered stumbles so far. Others like the United States have been in a state of chaos since the vaccines were first approved at the end of last year. Many in the U.S. have scrambled online for ephemeral appointment slots, while pharmacies desperately look to use up leftover doses before they expire.

One low-tech solution may help: An MIT-led coalition has unveiled an augmented vaccination card that works with or without user apps to help enable a much smoother vaccination process for everyone.

The simplest form of the vaccination card would include QR codes that can be applied as stickers to existing cards already distributed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Such codes would contain encrypted digital information necessary for each stage of a person’s vaccination process that can be scanned by the relevant authorities to check the person’s status—but would also avoid storing personally identifiable information in central databases in an effort to respect individual privacy.

“We should start sending these unique vaccination cards to everybody right now, like a mail-in ballot or census form,” said Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab.