Microsoft helping create COVID-19 vaccination 'passport'

Microsoft is part of a coalition of technology and health organizations working on the development of a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport that could be used by businesses and countries to enforce mandatory innoculation.

Announced Thursday, the Vaccination Credential Initiative aims to enable people to “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy,” the Financial Times reported.

Oracle and the Mayo Clinic also are part of the coalition, which is working with technology created by The Commons Project in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation.

People who have been vaccinated for the coronavirus currently receive a piece of paper to document their vaccination, Paul Meyer, the chief executive of The Commons Project, told the Financial Times.

The coalition could develop a digital certificate that would be stored on a smartphone in a digital wallet or a physical QR code.

The Times said the coalition expects event planners and universities will require proof of vaccination.

Mike Sicilia, the executive vice president of Oracle’s Global Business Units, said in a statement the passport “needs to be as easy as online banking.”

Reuters reported Thursday that a firm of London plumbers is considering including in its employment contracts a requirement for workers to have a COVID-19 vaccine, according to its founder.

On Monday, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that every student must be innoculated for the coronavirus before returning to class, once a vaccine is available.

Comparing it to required vaccinations for measles and mumps, Austin Beutner said he hopes all students will be innoculated by January 2022, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested in August that the vaccine would be mandatory for residents of his country but later backtracked.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top White House coronavirus adviser, said in August he would not support requiring the COVID-19 vaccine nationwide.

“We don’t want to be mandating from the federal government to the general population. It would be unenforceable and not appropriate,” he said.

States, cities and businesses, however, could require vaccination and impose penalties for noncompliance, such as a fine.

In early December, a bill was proposed in the New York State Assembly that would require COVID-19 vaccines for all residents who are able to safely receive it. The move came after the New York State Bar Association recommended the state consider making it mandatory for every resident, except for people exempted by a doctor.

In Virginia in August, the health commissioner said the state would mandate the vaccine, but a spokeswoman later said there were no such plans.

The CEO of Australia’s Quantas said in December that proof of vaccination would be a requirement for all international passengers with his airline in the future and others likely would adopt the policy.

However, in a Reuters panel discussion with health experts and tourism authorities on Monday, World Travel and Trade Council CEO Gloria Guevara said she disagreed with “the approach from Qantas.”

“We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel,” she said. “If you require the vaccination before travel, that takes us to discrimination.”

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