The News-Times

Here’s how state’s COVID vaccine passport works

- By Peter Yankowski

“I want to disabuse a lot of the fake news out there ... the SMART Health Card is ... purely optional and voluntary.”

Gov. Ned Lamont

Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday announced the launch of Connecticu­t’s version of a digital vaccine passport, allowing state residents to upload their COVID-19 vaccinatio­n card to a smartphone or other mobile device.

The move follows other states, including New York, California, Colorado and Louisiana, which already give their residents options to carry proof of COVID-19 vaccinatio­n on their smartphone­s.

In New York, where residents must either show proof of vaccinatio­n or wear a mask at most places indoors, the state offers the Excelsior Pass, an app that can be used to verify vaccinatio­n status as well as COVID-19 test results.

But Connecticu­t’s version of a COVID-19 pass announced Monday is more basic than New York’s version.

Users must access their COVID-19 vaccinatio­n records through the state’s immunizati­on database, CT WiZ. From there, they get a “SMART Health Card,” which can be saved in the user’s phone in the photo roll, or in an app, including an iPhone’s wallet.

The card includes a QR code that uses the same standard as the ones already in use by New York, California and Canada, according to the governor’s office.

“I want to disabuse a lot of the fake news out there ... the SMART Health Card is ... purely optional and voluntary,” Lamont said during a COVID-19 news conference on Monday. “It’s an added convenianc­e and it’s secure, that informatio­n by law, by contract cannot be sold, it cannot be disbursed,” he added. He said Massachuse­tts and Rhode Island will be adding the same capability as well.

The governor has repeatedly pushed back against calling the system a vaccine passport, claiming the phrase implies residents will be required to show proof of vaccinatio­n. But in many places — including New York — that’s already the case.

“It’s really a plus— down there in New York you can’t go to into a restaurant unless you can show your vaccinatio­n status,” Lamont said Monday.

In New York City, children as young as 5 must now show proof of having had at least one dose of a vaccine to eat in a restaurant, go to a museum or aquarium and most other indoor venues. Beginning next Monday, people 12 and older will need to show proof that they are fully vaccinated. That day also marks the deadline for inperson workers and people who work with the public in New York City to show they have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Lamont said the system will make it easier for shops and businesses to require people to show if they’ve been vaccinated. “I’ll be blunt, I like to go to a restaurant where someone does ask me for my vaccinatio­n status. I like to know who I’m sitting next to, it just makes me feel a lot safer,” he said.

Asked about concerns that the system could put users private informatio­n at risk, Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, said the contract for the system prevents informatio­n from being sold. “The informatio­n’s no different than what’s on [the user’s] vaccine card,” he said. “It’s very clear with regards to the SMART Health Card that data’s very secure. People who are concerned about this topic though— they may want to take another look at all the other apps that are on their phone.”

In a moment of brevity, a slide from the governor’s presentati­on included a state health card filled out for Santa Claus, showing Saint Nicholas had been vaccinated with Moderna beginning at the start of April, and had received a booster shot at the start of December.

“Santa is looking good. Santa can come to my house,” Lamont said.

Sunday, 1 p.m. (CBS)

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