PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon is working on an electronic vaccine verification tool that Oregonians would be able to use to share their COVID-19 vaccination status with businesses that ask for proof of verification.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said the tool would be optional and people would volunteer to opt-in.
Oregon is testing a model of its tool with "communities disproportionally impacted by COVID-19," OHA said.
The goal is to make it available to anyone in Oregon in the spring of 2022. Oregon does not require businesses to ask for customers' proof of COVID-19 vaccination, but many restaurants and bars in Portland have established their own requirements. Places like the Rose Quarter, which includes the Moda Center where the Portland Trail Blazers play, require proof of vaccination where this optional tool may be a convenient option.
The OHA's Public Health Director Rachel Banks showed lawmakers samples at a recent hearing.
"What you would have is a user that would request to get their vaccine records using name, date of birth, email,” she said.
The person would be sent a 'smart health card' with a QR code that would hold information about their vaccination status. They would show that to a business and the business person would have a way to verify it was accurate.
“We'll clearly work through the new year in terms of testing and communications and intend to launch in March," she said.
On November 23, Washington launched a similar digital COVID-19 verification record card that includes a QR code that can be scanned to prove if you're fully vaccinated, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
The new tool comes as more businesses require proof of vaccination to enter. King County, Washington's most populous county that also covers Seattle, has required proof of vaccination for indoor dining and events and large outdoor gatherings since October. Washington also started requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for large gatherings starting Nov. 15.
California launched its own digital tool in June and works similar to Washington's with a QR code.
“While CDPH [California Department of Public Health] 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 in a press release on the day of the launch.
But California and Washington are not alone.
Mary Kurilo, with the American Immunization Registry Association, told Oregon lawmakers that nine states now offer smart cards and 20 more, including Oregon, have projects in the works.
“Really the goal is to create one consolidated record for every individual within a jurisdiction,” she said.