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posted by martyb on Tuesday August 24 2021, @11:03AM   Printer-friendly

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, Insightful) by janrinok on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:21PM (8 children)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:21PM (#1170326) Journal

    You jest, I know, but here where I live my bank told me that they could not approve online purchases using a card unless I could provide a smart phone number that they could use to verify that it is actually me using the card. God knows what happens if somebody takes my card and my phone...

    I asked them to give me a suitable model - but no, of course, I would have to pay for it. I asked them about old folk, disabled people, and other corner cases, how do they afford such luxury devices?. They simply stared back at me with confused looks on their faces. Against my better judgement I bought myself a suitable, low end, smart phone. Turned off GPS, any tracking, and only switch it on when I want to use it, not so that people can call me when they want to.

    The use of digital vaccination certificates has actually made me concede the value of the smart phone. You can even set the QR code as your 'wallpaper' (probably the wrong term, but you know what I mean) so that it is always displayed even without unlocking the phone. I don't have to break stride to enter most places now.

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:27PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:27PM (#1170328)

    Question then becomes for how long will that work. When will the bank, or whomever, change or update their software in such as fashion that your low end old phone won't cope anymore. Then you need to get a new phone. That has already happened a few times up here in Sweden where phones just got "to old" (ie had to little memory) and could no longer run the apps or was found to insecure to view or host the various digital certificates. They always seem to rely on the latest OS and if your phone can't upgrade to it then you are out of luck. Time to get a new phone. So pretty much as often as Android or Apple make a new major version of the OS if you can't upgrade you are screwed.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday August 26 2021, @10:28AM

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 26 2021, @10:28AM (#1171139) Homepage Journal

      Happened here. My phone can no longer run my bank's current app. I refuse to pay hundreds of dollars just to cash cheques.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:54PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:54PM (#1170340)

    I absolutely hate how so much of society now just assumes everyone has a smartphone. I only got a smartphone when it became nigh impossible to do certain things unless you had one, because everyone has one, right? Yes, I'm an old curmudgeon, don't I still get to buy food unless I'm letting Apple or Google track my every footstep?

    I wonder if they have smartphone QR codes for people who actually have fucking medical reasons not to take the damn vaccine. Probably not, since the people supposedly making all these systems never fucking think about the edge cases.

    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday August 24 2021, @04:14PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @04:14PM (#1170368) Journal

      I agree with you 100% regarding the assumption that everybody has a smartphone. I just tell many people that I haven't and I certainly don't tell anyone the number unless I can see a benefit to myself rather than to the person asking.

      However, I do not agree with some of the assumptions that you make regarding people who have medical exemptions.

      They don't need QR codes for such people - here you only need to prove that you are vaccinated if you want to enter certain spaces, usually social, which are likely to be crowded (restaurants, festivals, big events etc). If you have a medical exemption there is no problem, you can still do all the essential things like get treatment, do your shopping, go out for exercise.

      But if you cannot be vaccinated then you shouldn't be going into crowded social events is the way most people here view it. If you have a weakened immune system for example, as my wife did, she was told to avoid such places for her own safety, not because she risked giving others a virus that she did not have. She could never have the annual flu vaccine either. She had to protect herself long before the CV-19 problem started. So she didn't have the CV-19 vaccine but she had to take measures to keep herself safe and healthy, and that meant staying away from places where she would be at particular risk

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @07:41PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @07:41PM (#1170480)

      no smartphone here. wife doesn't have one, and neither do the kids. we manage without too much trouble

      also no wifi in the house until the kids needed to do remote for a year; wifi on a dedicated subnet is easier than running ethernet from the basement through the attic to their rooms. and the wifi routed is turned off at night

      did once have a credit card reject a transaction a month back because they couldn't text me a verification code - so i simply used a different card. called to ask why they needed to send me a text, and they said they wouldn't talk to me until i verified my identity - via text. "sure - go ahead and send me that text", followed by "we don't have a cell phone on record for the account, only a home phone. and i see you're calling from that phone, so we've verified your identity." at that point, they changed my 2fa method over to call-only, and we're all done with that

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday August 26 2021, @10:31AM

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 26 2021, @10:31AM (#1171140) Homepage Journal

      In quebec [], they will issue codes for people with valid medical reasons for not being able to take the vaccine.

  • (Score: 2) by linuxrocks123 on Wednesday August 25 2021, @05:03AM (1 child)

    by linuxrocks123 (2557) on Wednesday August 25 2021, @05:03AM (#1170680) Journal

    What country? What bank? What card?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25 2021, @12:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25 2021, @12:25PM (#1170788)

      it was an american express; 371449635398431, expiring 1225. will you be able to help?

      thank you