Health care providers, tech companies expand digital access to vaccine records

With many public venues and businesses reopening, it may become necessary to show proof of your vaccination against COVID-19.

Now technology companies and health care providers have developed digital vaccination records that you can access on your phone. The companies are explicit that these are not "vaccine passports," which have been linked to hot-button political debates.

"This is an important part of getting back to normalcy," Eren Bali, CEO and co-founder of Carbon Health, a tech-supported health care provider headquartered in San Francisco, said.

Carbon Health has distributed 1.2 million digital health passes across approximately eight states where they operate vaccine sites. As soon as a patient is vaccinated, they receive a link to their digital health pass on their phone. It's HIPAA compliant, and Bali says the link is secure. Once a patient provides consent, the pass can be shared with others digitally, store a photo version of the paper vaccination record, and will soon be available to save in the Apple Wallet and Google Pay.

Healthvana, a patient engagement platform that is partnering with Los Angeles County to distribute digital vaccine records, offers a similar service, and 2 million Los Angeles residents now have digital health records provided by the company.

Both Healthvana and Carbon Health hope to expand to more people across more states this year.

Healthvana CEO Ramin Bastani explained the company has good reason not to identify it as a vaccine passport.

"We view it as your medical record," Bastani said. "A passport comes from the Federal government. In this case, it's your digital health information captured on your phone."

Bastani added that if the health record contains an inaccuracy, it's easy to fix within a few hours by contacting the company support team. Paper records are less quick to correct.

Different companies offering similar digital records, Bastani says, is like having multiple payment methods. Most businesses will accept a variety when used as proof of vaccination.

"We think there's going to be a lot of different solutions for this, and that's ok. I'm sure in your purse or wallet you have more than one credit card," Bastani said. "There's going to be different ways to show you've been vaccinated if you choose to do so. If you're not vaccinated you can show a negative test result."