Will the Boston Proof of Vaccination Order work without a verification system?

“My own vaccination card was issued to me without my name – I had to write it down,” he said. “I would support a more verifiable system, such as an app with links to vaccine history.”

Wu said the CDC’s paper vaccination card, or a photo of it, would be considered acceptable proof, as would any digital verification certificate that might be available. (People who have been vaccinated at CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart, for example, can get digital apps from these retailers.) The city does not require people to present other forms of identification.

About 10 states, including New York and California, provide immunization records for the SMART Health Card system, which allows residents to obtain a copy of their immunization status in the form of a verifiable QR code. The system was developed about a year ago and is based on technology from Boston Children’s Hospital.

Cities like San Francisco and New York offer verifiable digital certificates and also accept other forms of proof.

The SMART health card is not still available in Massachusetts, but Gov. Charlie Baker said End of november that a QR code-based COVID-19 vaccine certificate is forthcoming. He also said he did not intend to implement a statewide vaccination passport that would be required to be admitted to the sites.

A city spokesperson declined to comment on whether Boston would eventually implement a universal standard for its proof of vaccination policy, but added “we will monitor the situation and ensure that the B Together policy remains grounded in it. equity and public health “.

Frank Nash, president of Massachusetts Independent Fitness Operators, said he didn’t think gym workers should be asked to apply for such a mandate because they lack the expertise to validate health records. But if they are asked to abide by the rule, Nash said, the government should implement a system that is not vulnerable to counterfeiting or loopholes.

“If it was that bad and that bad, don’t you think they would already have something in place” for verification, Nash said.

Wu on Monday announced plans to create an app to meet vaccine requirements, similar to the one already in use in New York City, that allows people to upload a photo of their immunization card. The NYC app, however, does not verify the authenticity of the photo; it just helps people keep their immunization records handy.

“My concern with these apps is just that they cause a bit of confusion and impart a certain level of officiality or validity that may not exist,” said JP Pollak, co-founder of The Commons Project, an organization nonprofit involved in the group that designed the SMART Health Card.

He believes verifiable credentials would make proof of vaccination policies like Boston’s more effective, but recognized that there are benefits to giving people multiple options.

There are also downsides to digital vaccine certificates – they only work if companies actually scan them. Pollak, who lives in New York City, uses a separate app that the state government developed to check vaccination called Excelsior. But he notes that when he holds it up to enter a place, “usually it is not scanned.”

“People don’t want to have to arm their staff with a mobile app or scanner technology,” he said. “But if we are serious about requiring proof of vaccination to enter, this step is particularly important.”

Gus Malezis, managing director of Imprivata, a Waltham-based digital identity company, believes policymakers should take verifiable vaccine records seriously. Last month, he went to a restaurant in Toronto – where residents have access to digital certificates – and felt uncomfortable when waiters inspected his CDC card.

“They were like, ‘What is this? “He said.” I’m sure they were trying to validate if it was real. “

He hopes Boston’s vaccine policy will be very different six months from now.

“I think it’s unreasonable to expect companies to sift through all the different types,” he said. “What if they let me in and I show them a fake vaccination card that they didn’t get back?” Are they then responsible?

Beyond the lack of a verification system, some business and health leaders have questioned the real intent of the policy and its ability to achieve its stated goals. Wu said the proof of vaccination policy is aimed at to “fight the winter wave, increase vaccination and protect indoor gatherings”.

Dr Shira Doron, infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, said if the goal is to get the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, the policy could move the needle for some. But the idea that this will make indoor spaces safer, especially amid the highly transmissible Omicron variant, is a weaker argument, she said.

“I don’t disagree with this mandate, but I think it’s important to be very honest with the public, that the most effective part is getting people to get vaccinated,” Doron said. . “It won’t make this space perfectly safe. “

A city spokesperson said, “We are confident that the B Together policy will help increase immunization rates and protect workers and members of the public. The people who can be influenced are the “parents of young children, young people and others.”

Bob Luz, chef of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said the policy could even contribute to a “false sense of security.”

“We know for a fact that these warrants have been in effect in New York and New Orleans since September, and these two cities have seen similar surges in recent times,” he said. “So at the end of the day: what’s the effect?” “

Hiawatha Bray and Janelle Nanos of Globe staff contributed to this report.


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @ anissagardizy8.