Massachusetts residents are getting a few new opportunities this week to show they’ve got the COVID-19 vaccine on their phone as more communities and businesses move to make vaccination a requirement for certain activities.
The first – released Monday by Governor Charlie Baker’s administration – provides individuals and businesses with a scannable code that links directly to the user’s documented vaccine history.
The second – coming later this week from the city of Boston – gives users a simpler way to view a picture of their COVID-19 vaccine card on their phone.
The new tools come as several cities and towns in Massachusetts, including Boston, move to require proof of vaccination for certain indoor venues, such as restaurants, gyms, museums, and other entertainment and event environments.
Baker has repeatedly said his administration has no plans for any nationwide vaccine requirements for indoor venues such as restaurants. However, an administration official on Monday said the state’s new tool is a standardized option for individuals and businesses where such requirements are in place.
The city of Boston will require patrons ages 12 and up to show that they have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to enter certain companies as part of the first phase of their new policy. Many local restaurants and indoor venues, such as TD Garden, have already begun to require the vaccine independently.
Here’s what you need to know:
From the State: My Vax Records
The Baker administration released a new online tool that joins the state vaccination registry, giving residents access to their history and generating a digital COVID-19 vaccine card that can be stored on their phone.
But the state’s new tool – Mine Vax Records – is not an app.
It can rather be accessed online at www.myvaxrecords.mass.gov, where individuals are asked to enter their name, date of birth and a mobile phone number or email that may be associated with their vaccine journal.
(Residents should probably try to use their cell phone number first; according to a state tech official, the “vast majority” of Massachusetts Immunization Information System records are associated with a cell phone number, while most do not currently include email addresses.)
After creating a four-digit PIN code, users will receive an SMS or email with a website link to their vaccine registration showing their entire immunization history, including any COVID-19 primary shots and boosters.
The digital journal also includes a SMART Health Card with a QR code that companies use an accompanying one SMART Health Card Verifier app can scan and see the user.
iPhone users can save to the QR code in their Apple Wallet and Health app. So far, the only option for Android users is to take a screenshot of the QR code (iPhone users can also screenshot the code).
State officials released a video tutorial on the process Monday. There are also additional tips for save the smart card on his phone on the state website.
Government officials say there are a number of potential reasons why a resident’s vaccine registrations may not show up – including if they got their shots out of state or if their vaccine provider did not upload their contact information.
If a user’s information does not match the current MIIS records, they get a link to the state’s page with frequently asked questions, which suggests double-checking the information they have provided, contacting their COVID-19 vaccine provider or make an online MIIS change request.
While administration officials recognized that many individuals may need to take further steps to access their vaccination record through the new tool, they argued that it was more comprehensive and verifiable than simply saving a photo of one’s vaccine card on their phone.
About a dozen other states use the SMART Health Card platform, including California, which Massachusetts officials pointed to has the most similar system.
The Baker administration also recently notified healthcare providers of their plans to use the MIIS system for the digital vaccine card, urging providers to make sure their records are up to date.
However, the digital card itself is not updated automatically. So if someone gets an extra vaccine shot, like a booster, they will have to get a new QR code through the original portal once their MIIS information is updated.
From Boston: B Together
People who are willing to wait a few more days will also have another simpler – if less counterfeit – option – to view their vaccination records.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration plans to roll out its own digital vaccine card-safe app ahead of the first phase of the city’s “B Together“Vaccination requirements policy enters into force this Saturday.
Modeled after the New York Citys “NYC COVID SAFE”App, the B Together app will allow users to save a photo of their vaccination card, according to Wu’s office.
For the sake of simplicity, Wu’s office says the app will only require users to enter their name and then upload an existing photo of their vaccine card or take a new photo using their phone’s camera. They will also be able to upload and display vaccine cards for children and family members.
Wu’s office says they consulted with New York City officials about the rollout of their app, even though it is being designed and managed internally.
The app does not require users to provide any official form of identification, nor does it endorse any official vaccination records. City officials say all data is only stored locally on your phone and that the app does not track your location or share data with other devices for privacy reasons.
“We want to make it as easy as possible to show that you’re vaccinated to enter indoor eateries, gyms or entertainment venues,” a city official told Boston.com.
Wu’s office says the app will be ready Saturday in English, Spanish and Simplified Chinese, with more languages to be added later.
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