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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: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday August 25 2021, @04:49AM (5 children)

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday August 25 2021, @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."
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  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday August 26 2021, @10:20AM (4 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 26 2021, @10:20AM (#1171137) Homepage Journal

    Quebec is issuing QR codes as vaccine passports [], 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 2021, @04:37AM (3 children)

      by dry (223) on Friday August 27 2021, @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 2021, @09:16PM (2 children)

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 30 2021, @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 2021, @02:02AM (1 child)

          by dry (223) on Tuesday August 31 2021, @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 2021, @03:10AM

            by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 31 2021, @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.