California residents will get digital record of coronavirus vaccination

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is allowing residents to access a digital record of their coronavirus vaccinations they can use to access businesses or events that require proof of inoculation.

The state’s public health and technology departments said Friday the new tool will allow Californians to access their record from the state’s immunization registry. The record will show the same information as paper cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“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 vaccine record,” the state explained in a news release. “After creating a 4-digit PIN, the user receives a link to their vaccine record that will open upon re-entry of the PIN.

“The record shows the same information as the paper CDC vaccine card: name, date of birth, date of vaccinations, and vaccine manufacturer. It also includes a QR code that makes these same details readable by a QR scanner. Once the digital record is received, individuals are encouraged to screenshot the information and save it to their phone files or camera roll.”

Following a drop in coronavirus cases and rise in vaccinations, California this week lifted a slew of pandemic-related restrictions and vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks at most indoor locations.

Check out the tool on the state’s website.

There are no capacity limits for public events, but at so-called indoor “mega events” of 5,000 people or more, venues will be required to verify a person’s vaccination status or a recent negative COVID-19 test. The same policy is recommended — but not mandated — for outdoor mega events of 10,000 people or more.

For smaller groups of people to comingle in businesses around California, the state mirrors the Centers for Disease Control’s latest guidance on mask-wearing: unvaccinated people are asked to cover their face indoors, while the fully vaccinated are not, in most cases.

Businesses have three options for enforcing that policy:

  • Verification, with staff checking guests’ vaccination status before they enter without a mask, or asking attendees to wear a face covering if they don’t provide verification
  • “Self-attesting,” meaning attendees are made aware of the requirements and are allowed to simply state that they are in compliance before entering without a mask (essentially, the “honor system”)
  • Requiring masks for all patrons, regardless of vaccination status

California’s new digital system could come in handy at businesses and other public places that take the first route, or at mega-events.

The state has said it does not have plans for a more formal “vaccine passport” system used to gate movement through the state by vaccination status.

“While CDPH recommends that vaccinated Californians keep their paper CDC card in a safe and secure place, we recognize that some people might prefer an electronic version,” said California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan. “And if one of the state’s nearly 20 million vaccinated Californians misplaces their paper card, the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record provides a convenient backup.”

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