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More Secure Digital Vaccine Status Now Live

People getting the COVID-19 vaccine will receive a special vaccine card to record their doses, Operation Warp Speed officials say. Here, a Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a sample card.
EJ Hersom
Virginias will no longer have to carry oddly-shaped vaccination cards in many circumstances.

The system utilizes “quick response,” or QR codes, which resemble barcodes made up of small squares. QR codes are often seen in restaurants to link to digital menus.

Virginians could access their vaccination records online before, but Christy Gray, who runs the health department’s Division of Immunization, said this system is more convenient and trustworthy.

“What we've done is we've taken that same information and we've incorporated it using the smart health format, into a QR code that can be scanned by the verifier app,” she said. “And that is really empowering Virginians with a trustworthy, verifiable copy of their vaccination record.”

“Because it's been digitally signed, it can't be forged or altered, which provides more integrity to the record.”

On vaccinate.virginia.gov users can pull their record by entering their name, birthdate and zipcode. Then the system will push a confirmation code to the phone number on record, via SMS or a phone call, as a security measure.

Once a QR code is visible, users can save it. Employers or businesses attempting to verify vaccination statuses using the codes will need to use the SMART Health Verifier App, which is free.

Gray said Virginia is the fifth US state to adopt this technology, but Virginians who were vaccinated in Maryland or Tennessee are also in the system. VDH announced Thursday that Maryland’s data had been imported into the Virginia Immunization Information System. VDH is in communication with North Carolina and West Virginia to import their data as well, she said.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.
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