As public health leaders across the country weigh the pros and cons of so-called “vaccine passports” – a record meant to show a person has been inoculated against COVID-19 – the OC Health Care Agency is planning a field test to figure out how proving immunity would work in the real world.
The agency announced that in April it will launch a pilot program to test “digital passports” – likely through the county’s Othena vaccine scheduling app – which a vaccinated person could display to enter places where strangers inevitably mix, such as at conferences, meetings, concerts and sporting events.
But concrete information about the upcoming test run was limited; the Health Care Agency’s initial notice on Wednesday lacked details.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the agency’s director and county health officer, said he told state health officials Tuesday that Orange County could easily introduce a function to Othena for people who used the county’s system to get vaccinated to show anyone who asks for proof.
But Chau said he worries about leaving behind people who either haven’t been vaccinated yet, or who have but don’t have a smartphone or internet access to use a digital version of such a passport. He suggested also issuing printed cards.
Since January, Othena has been used to schedule more than 1 million vaccine appointments at county super PODs – points-of-distribution at Disneyland, the Anaheim Convention Center, Soka University and the OC Fairgrounds – as well as pop-up mobile PODs targeting specific hard-to-reach communities.
The county’s rollout continues to outpace other providers – Othena vaccinations account for 35% of doses given so far; CVS pharmacies are in second with 12%, according to the OC Health Care Agency’s latest data.
But what needs figuring out, Chau said, is how to bring the records of people who were vaccinated through traditional and private providers under the Othena umbrella for a passport system.
It’ll take buy-in from large players such as health care systems to small doctor’s offices to furnish electronic health records, Chau said. “What about those folks who are not part of that larger system?” Read Full Article at The Orange County Register