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posted by martyb on Tuesday August 24, @11:03AM   Printer-friendly

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/08/covid-19-vaccine-cards-why-so-big/619707/

This spring, as New York City warmed up and the local vaccination rate surged, I met my best friend for our first restaurant meal together in months. As soon as we sat down, she began rifling through her purse. "I have something for you," she told me. From her bag came a rectangle of clear, thick, double-layered plastic—the kind of display pocket that often dangles at the end of a lanyard. My friend had swiped a handful from her office's supply closet. "It's for your vaccine card," she explained. But I already knew.

When I got my first shot, in late February, I sat in the mandatory waiting area, holding my new card in one hand and my wallet in the other, trying to understand why the two objects weren't compatible. I contemplated where I should put this brand-new golden ticket, ultimately sliding the thin piece of too-large card stock into an envelope I found in my tote. I'm going to either lose this or destroy it, I thought to myself.

Indeed, I lost it—at least for a little while. Despite dutifully sliding the card into its new protective pocket after lunch with my friend, I eventually found myself tearing my apartment apart searching for it, for exactly the reasons I had feared: It was the wrong size for the one place where most people keep all their important everyday documents, and of too nebulous a purpose to sit safely in a drawer with my birth certificate and passport. Could it unlock some sort of privileges at the airport? Were restaurants going to check it? Did I need to take it to medical appointments? My card had gotten shuffled into a sandwich baggie filled with extra masks, not to be rediscovered for six weeks.

With all due respect to our country's overworked and undersupported public-health apparatus: This is dumb. The card is dumb, and it's difficult to imagine a series of intentional decisions that could have reasonably led to it as the consensus best pick. Its strangeness had been a bit less important in the past seven months, when evidence of immunity was rarely necessary to do things within America. Now, as Delta-variant cases surge and more municipalities and private businesses begin to require proof of vaccination to patronize places such as restaurants and gyms, the rubber has met the road on this flimsy de facto verification apparatus. It's not the highest-stakes question of this stage of the pandemic, but it's one that's become quite common: How did we end up with these cards?

What size are the COVID-19 vaccine ID cards in other (non-USA) countries?


Original Submission

 
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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @12:00PM (21 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @12:00PM (#1170282)

    But why can't it be made correctly the first time? it's the same shit every time.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 24, @12:21PM (10 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 24, @12:21PM (#1170287)

    It's entirely intentional. Any idiot knows how to make a card easy to carry - it takes a certain kind of manipulative to make it harder to deal with and more likely to be lost. Motives for this manipulation may vary, but be assured, more than one person in the decision making process knew exactly what they were doing and the impacts it would have.

    Reminds me of right justified text, shown by widely reproduced research to be harder to read, comprehend, and reference for information. When somebody hands you a contract or other important document in right justified text, know that they are intentionally obfuscating the information they just gave you, made you responsible for while simultaneously, intentionally, making it just a bit harder for you to actually comprehend that information.

    --
    John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday August 24, @03:57PM (3 children)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday August 24, @03:57PM (#1170363) Journal

      So one edge gets beat up a little but the damn thing fits fine in a wallet otherwise.

      Also, is it possible they simply needed to fit a certain amount of text and signature room on the card and it's not a conspiracy to sap and impurify your precious bodily fluids?

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 24, @05:31PM (2 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 24, @05:31PM (#1170417)

        Occalm's Razor after being applied to Government actions:

        Everything is a conspiracy to sap and impurify Our Purity of Essence / precious bodily fluids. It is the simplest and most often correct explanation, rivaled only by incompetence + apathy.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday August 24, @05:44PM (1 child)

          by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday August 24, @05:44PM (#1170432) Journal

          Or they placed all the information they needed into the smallest area possible to save taxpayer money on printing costs.

          • (Score: 3, Touché) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 24, @07:59PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 24, @07:59PM (#1170489)

            Malicious Compliance:

            placed all the information they needed into the smallest area possible to save taxpayer money on printing costs.

            Law requires them to save taxpayer money AND provide the information... didn't say anything about making that information practical to access, durable, etc.

            --
            John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @04:00PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @04:00PM (#1170364)

      Reminds me of right justified text, shown by widely reproduced research to be harder to read, comprehend, and reference for information. When somebody hands you a contract or other important document in right justified text, know that they are intentionally obfuscating the information they just gave you, made you responsible for while simultaneously, intentionally, making it just a bit harder for you to actually comprehend that information.

      Are you sure you mean right justified (flush right, ragged left; the opposite of what you're used to) and not full justified (flush both left and right, with words and sometimes letters spaced out to fill the line)? I've never seen a contract or other important document right justified. Full justified, absolutely, and, annoyingly, SHOUTING ALL CAPS to make the text harder to read, but never right justified.

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 24, @08:02PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 24, @08:02PM (#1170491)

        You're absolutely correct - I meant full justified, I was just focused on the right - shouldn't let that happen, there's a bigger picture to consider.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
    • (Score: 2) by edIII on Tuesday August 24, @07:26PM (3 children)

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24, @07:26PM (#1170473)

      I think it was just lack of foresight. The card is Avery 5392 cardstock, which means it would be very easy to print, and also listed inside programs like Microsoft Word. The person putting together probably just searched for the first card that could fit all the fields. That might have been according to some rules about font size, etc. I'm betting that once the fields were decided, the standards for font-size applied, etc. that they found it fit on Avery 5392. Or a standard 4x3 name card which is readily available everywhere. You can load up the cardstock in a laser printer (or ugggh an ink jet) and print blank CDC cards at will. Meaning, that the vast majority of clinics, pharmacies, and vaccine outreach programs would've had access to equipment and materials to print one.

      If they were forward thinking, it would have been a nonstandard size that no cardstock company supports with official water marks, and fits inside a wallet folded. For truly evil government agenda points, they could've pushed it as an endorsement of some kind to put on a passport or new federal ID card. Instead, it was basic bitch office secretary hour.

      In this case I think it's better to assume incompetence instead of malice. Even that may not be fair because the person in charge wasn't thinking this was going to become a goddamn passport. They may have checked all the boxes they were given perfectly.

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 24, @08:08PM (1 child)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 24, @08:08PM (#1170492)

        all the boxes they were given

        The beauty of "need to know" information compartmentalization.

        Of course the decision makes sense to the person who made it. Considering the needs of the government workers and maybe health care providers before the needs of the citizens is definitely on-brand. And being on a standard Avery size is _probably_ a sign that they're not attempting to funnel money somewhere inappropriate, which certainly happens in government printing programs everywhere all the time.

        Anyone who didn't twig on the concept that this vaccine card was going to instantly become a virtual passport is certainly obtuse enough to qualify for civil service. I mean: what do you have to show to enroll your kids in school? What have the cruise ships been demanding for months? Not to mention Canada... if the oh-so-polite Canadians are insisting, it's going to become universal. My office announced last Friday that as of Sept. 30 we're going to have to show one to enter the building - I think I'll just hold any meetings I need in the parking lot, at safe distances, thank you.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by dry on Friday August 27, @04:28AM

          by dry (223) on Friday August 27, @04:28AM (#1171329) Journal

          I believe it is an app that Canada uses for the border, though I guess to get registered with the app means proving you're vaccinated so the card would be needed.
          While on the topic, my vaccination card is the usual wallet size, only used it so far for my 2nd shot and most of us are registered with our health number. My Province (BC) is bringing in a vaccine passport, sounds like a QR code on your phone with something else for those without a phone, combined with ID. Polling shows about 80% of Canadians are in favour of some kind of a vaccine passport to some degree.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, @04:46AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, @04:46AM (#1170672)

        The cards being an inconvenient size to carry (without the trivial work around of folding the card in half) probably doesn't matter since there is such a counterfeit problem across the country. We'll probably have to switch to a centralized db lookup system, or some sort of signed digital card. Because some folks would rather risk an $8000 fine*, possible jail sentence, and significantly higher risk of serious illness and death, than getting vaccinated.

        40% of eligible Americans are still refusing vaccination. We're back to over 1000 unvaccinated people per day dying preventable deaths, from COVID, in the US.

        * A family was just fined $8K for attempting to enter Hawaii from the mainland using forged vaccination documents. The article said the adults could have faced jail for the forgeries. The article didn't mention it, but they were either returned or they spent their vacation in Hawaii's mandatory quarantine for visitors without (valid) proof of vaccination.

  • (Score: 0, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @01:22PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @01:22PM (#1170306)

    Are you referring to the vaccine or the card?

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday August 24, @01:41PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24, @01:41PM (#1170311) Journal

      If they both don't work, then they cancel each other out, so it's all okay.

      --
      A large Starlink satellite constellation will be a smashing success!
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DannyB on Tuesday August 24, @01:40PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24, @01:40PM (#1170310) Journal

    why can't [the card] be made correctly the first time? it's the same shit every time.

    Good ol' American management and planning.

    Hey, I've got an idea! How about we outsource all lower, middle and upper management?

    --
    A large Starlink satellite constellation will be a smashing success!
    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @06:34PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @06:34PM (#1170457)

      That still leaves 4 layers intact.

  • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday August 25, @04:49AM (5 children)

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday August 25, @04:49AM (#1170675)

    the vaccine cards were never intended to be carried with you like a credit card or drivers license because you weren't supposed to need it for anything except international travel at worst.

    The vaccine was supposed to END COVID!! and the vac card would be left sitting in your drawer along with your passport and vaccination records for measles and yellow fever. Nobody thought about it's size beyond "will it fit in the envelope with the rest of the vaccination papers?".

    It wasn't until everyone else realized what the experts knew from day one. COVID was here to stay. And now we have proof or vaccination requirements popping up everywhere.

    --
    "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday August 26, @10:20AM (4 children)

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 26, @10:20AM (#1171137) Homepage Journal

      Quebec is issuing QR codes as vaccine passports [radio-canada.ca], an app to display them on your phone, and an app that stores can use to check the for validity. A thousand-dollar penalty for trying to use one that isn't yours.

      • (Score: 2) by dry on Friday August 27, @04:37AM (3 children)

        by dry (223) on Friday August 27, @04:37AM (#1171331) Journal

        Sounds like BC is going the same way, details to come. The question is enforcement with some businesses already saying they'll refuse to ask for the passport and only bylaw officers to enforce. I think half the reason is to encourage the hesitant, with vaccine appointments already way up after the announcement. They'll be human rights claims as well as there is no out for the medically unable to get vaccinated or the religious nuts. It's also only for discriminatory stuff like sports, concerts and such.

        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday August 30, @09:16PM (2 children)

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 30, @09:16PM (#1172529) Homepage Journal

          It looks like Quebec is dealing with the corner cases, such as people who can't be vaccinated for valid medical reasons. But it may take some time to work out the details, such as how to get certificates to homeless people.

          Although they make a big point about it working with cell phones, I've already found out what to do without a cell phone. Instead of the app, I can download and print a certificate with the QR code. I'll be testing that next time I get a chance to get checked. I'll be using the printout everywhere because my cell phone is too old to admit the Android app (requires Android 8.1; I've reached the limit of my upgrading with Android 6.something).

          And facilities that need to check QR codes and don't get severe fines too. There will likely be undercover inspectors, like there already are for sales tax, and they say they are also setting up a snitch line.

          Even if they don't actually do all that surveillance, the fact that they might is likely to get a lot of businesses to comply.

          • (Score: 2) by dry on Tuesday August 31, @02:02AM (1 child)

            by dry (223) on Tuesday August 31, @02:02AM (#1172635) Journal

            It's still up in the air here, though I'd assume a printout of the QR code will work, but that assumes access to a computer and printer, not something the homeless easily have, especially if they can't use the library until they get the pass. Lots of the homeless don't even have ID, which I understand is also a requirement so the QR code corresponds to the user.
            For enforcement, at least for people freaking out at being denied entry, the Province suggested calling the cops, which got a very negative reaction from the cops about their shortage of resources. Will have to see how it works out. The majority does seem in favour as well as getting pissed off at the vaccine deniers.

            • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday August 31, @03:10AM

              by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 31, @03:10AM (#1172650) Homepage Journal

              I heard a radio interview with someone who is working with homeless people. She said everything is still somewhat indefinite, but her organisation is working to make sure the homeless can get their vaccine passports.
              Sounds like someone is trying to make things right, but I'd be happier knowing it had been planned for properly at the start.