Welcome to our dystopian hellscape, where you might soon have to flash your Apple Wallet when trying to enter an airport in order to prove that you’ve been given the covid-19 vaccine.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, that’s the reality being faced by residents in Los Angeles, where a recent partnership between Apple and wellness app Healthvana could soon mean that vaccination records will be offered digitally in an attempt to (hopefully) incentivise people to actually inoculate themselves. Because the virus that causes covid-19 requires a two-shot dose, the logic goes, having a record of the first shot stored digitally could help to ensure that individuals are cleared promptly for their second shot — and could, eventually, serve as proof that an individual trying to access a grocery store or concert venue has been vaccinated.
Los Angeles recently broke its own record for both covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations, leaving health officials scrambling to set up a vaccine disbursal plan “as quickly as humanly possible,” said Claire Jarashow, director of vaccine and preventable disease control at the county’s Department of Public Health.
While the vaccines will be formally tracked in registries and patients given paper tracking cards, Jarashow said that health officials also saw a benefit to giving patients access to their digital records as well, which will have the added benefit of being harder to misplace.
“We’re really concerned. We really want people to come back for that second dose,” Jarashow told Bloomberg. “We just don’t have the capacity to be doing hundreds of medical record requests to find people’s first doses and when they need to get their second.”
Although some patients will likely be wary of handing over their protected medical data to some app, Healthvana CEO Ramin Bastani claims that the company stores its data on Amazon Web Services’ HIPAA-compliant servers, making the app “as safe as we can make it,” according to Jarashow.
“Personally I would feel comfortable using it, so I hope that’s reassuring,” she added.
According to Bloomberg, Healthvana is also in talks with Los Angeles County concert venues, employers and schools about applying this technology — “anyone who has a large number of people interacting with them,” Bastani says, although he adds that he’s sceptical that the app will become the de-facto mode of identifying your vaccination status.
“It’s not going to be like one credit card you can use across the U.S.,” Bastani says. “Sometimes you can pay cash, sometimes you can use your Apple Wallet.”