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New York’s ‘Excelsior Pass’ is United States’ first COVID-19 vaccine passport

Is that something King Arthur gave his knights?
It’s slightly more contemporary. Introduced in March by New York State, it’s the first and only government-issued vaccine passport in the United States, for those who have been vaccinated in the country.

Interesting! Is it a digital document?
It’s basically a QR code on your phone that indicates the person’s vaccine status. But it’s become pretty pisive, with some saying it’s a violation of privacy. In fact, many other states in the US have banned the use of vaccine passports to protect privacy and inpidual choice.

I see. Is the pass popular?
So far, some 1.1 million passes have been downloaded, though over 9 million New Yorkers have been vaccinated.

Oh, so not everyone’s rushing to get it
Officials are hopeful it will catch on. And sports venues and many smaller businesses are using it though the bulk of businesses are not asking for proof of vaccination for entry. The state has also said those businesses accepting the Excelsior Pass must also accept paper vaccine cards.

How easy is it to forge though?
Good question, and that’s just what some technology experts are warning about. One of them showed how it took just 11 minutes to download someone else’s Excelsior Pass using information available on social media (remember all those vaccine selfies?) and Google.

Is it likely more people will accept it?
It depends on the acceptance of vaccination itself. One café that put up a sign saying people who wanted to sit indoors must be vaccinated got a lot of hate, including being called ‘Segregation Café’.

Ouch. But then again, this does sound like first-world problems, where getting a jab is not the issue.

Text: Indulekha Aravind