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posted by martyb on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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?


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 24 2021, @12:21PM (10 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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.

    --
    Україна досі не є частиною Росії.
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:57PM (3 children)

    by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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 2021, @05:31PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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.

      --
      Україна досі не є частиною Росії.
      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday August 24 2021, @05:44PM (1 child)

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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 2021, @07:59PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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.

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          Україна досі не є частиною Росії.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @04:00PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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 2021, @08:02PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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.

      --
      Україна досі не є частиною Росії.
  • (Score: 2) by edIII on Tuesday August 24 2021, @07:26PM (3 children)

    by edIII (791) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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 2021, @08:08PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @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.

      --
      Україна досі не є частиною Росії.
      • (Score: 2) by dry on Friday August 27 2021, @04:28AM

        by dry (223) on Friday August 27 2021, @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 2021, @04:46AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25 2021, @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.