Orange County to test digital COVID-19 vaccine passport program

Tony Cabrera Image
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Orange County to test digital vaccine passport program
The Orange County Health Care Agency announced it will launch a pilot program to test out digital vaccine passports.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- As Orange County moves toward fewer restrictions and more openings, the OC Health Care Agency is hoping to help make it safer and give people peace of mind with a digital passport that will prove vaccination status and test results.

The agency briefly made the announcement last week, saying it will launch the pilot program this month. The county says it can be used for travel, attractions, conferences or meetings, concerts, sports, school and more.

The digital passport is already visible on the Othena app, which is Orange County's official home for scheduling vaccine appointments.

It's a tool that will likely start appearing more and more through a platform called CommonPass, currently in the trial stage. It can be accessed through other apps and services, which will potentially allow people to show it to get into a concert or to get on a plane.

RELATED: OC is now in the orange tier - so what's changed?

Orange County on Wednesday officially eased restrictions on businesses after qualifying for the orange tier of the state's program to reopen the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Basically take the record of that vaccination, put it in what's effectively a digital envelope," said Paul Meyer, CEO of The Commons Project.

California state health officials have already expressed their interest.

"We're going to be following carefully what the federal government comes out with. We're also planning to make sure that we come out with, if they don't move fast enough, we will come out with technical standards of what we expect," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, the director of the California Department of Public Health.

Although the U.S. Travel Association is glad to see people getting the vaccine, the president and CEO says a vaccine passport is a real problem.

"It sounds good, but the bottom line, logistically - a nightmare, it's discriminatory and many people, like I've had COVID, I've got antibodies, and my doctor tells me the chances of me getting COVID is like zero," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.

"So I think there's many other things that people have to look at and be sure - not just vaccine, that's not the only answer," Dow said. "But we're glad to see people getting the vaccine, cause it's giving people the confidence to travel."