Home Travel I’m Skeptical That A Thick Piece Of Paper Is My Key To Traveling Freely Again

I’m Skeptical That A Thick Piece Of Paper Is My Key To Traveling Freely Again

by joeheg

For the last year, our goal was to try and avoid catching the coronavirus. After we dodged two bullets when traveling to San Francisco and New York City at the beginning of 2020,  our trips for the rest of the year were based on our risk assessment of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s comes 2021 and COVID-19 vaccines are here (albeit currently in limited supply.)  Some people are fortunate enough to be higher on the list to receive a vaccine than others and that may seem unfair since some places, like at least some cruise lines, will require passengers to be vaccinated before getting on a ship. Honestly, those who are getting the vaccine first are at a higher risk of complications if they get sick or work in places where they’re at a higher risk of getting COVID.

I can’t help but ask that if a vaccine is a key to unlocking restriction-free travel, why is the only thing that the government is giving to prove your vaccination is a piece of paper?

There’s plenty of talk about countries requiring “digital passports” with a history of negative tests, proof of past infection or vaccination to allow guests to enter without a quarantine requirement. How will people be able to upload the information from this “card” into this database?

Most states have vaccine databases but they’re not linked and access is typically limited to health care practitioners in the said state. We have no national vaccination database and, until now, there’s been no desire to create one. In fact, states have been unwilling to let outside entities have access to those records in the name of patient privacy.

What I’m asking is if, in the future, all I’ll need to travel around the world is a piece of relatively thick paper (yes, I’ve held one and that’s all it is and they ship the blank ones with the vaccines.) The US really should have come up with a better system to confirm a patient’s vaccination status before starting to give the shots to patients, but there are plenty of things the US should have done better when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

Or am I totally off base here???

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian January 28, 2021 - 4:18 pm

You’re not off base at all. I hadn’t realized that the system in place was so slipshod but given the federal response through last year of dumping the problems on the states’ laps so the executive branch could blame everyone else, I shouldn’t be surprised. Sigh.

Nancy January 28, 2021 - 4:29 pm

I agree. It doesn’t seem very “official”.

David O January 28, 2021 - 7:40 pm

There are privacy implications if you do a digital system. Currently the government doesn’t have a national health database on all Americans. If you have some sort of digital registry system, it means they’d have that, at least for a limited use, and a precedent is set. There’s also a question about how you handle undocumented immigrants (no SSN) and so on.

Not saying paper is the perfect system, but there are serious drawbacks to having a digital system too.

Keith January 28, 2021 - 8:20 pm

You need to have a system that can be replicated even in poorer countries. The card works for yellow fever, why would it not work for Covid?

joeheg January 29, 2021 - 12:15 am

Most countries in the world don’t care about Yellow Fever vaccination (although I think those cards are regulated a little more than the COVID cards)

derek January 28, 2021 - 8:56 pm

Doctors and hospitals typically don’t have rubber stamps, particularly with a round seal. Other countries, particularly France, like rubber stamps. The CDC card has no room for a rubber stamp. We are doomed.

Marlene January 28, 2021 - 9:30 pm

The vaccinations are documented at least in the mychart system (if you have it). One can always access their own medical records. I’m getting my shots (had the first already) at the health system where I’m a patient.

yoMaMa January 28, 2021 - 9:32 pm

before computers this how it was done and it worked for 75+ years.

joeheg January 29, 2021 - 12:14 am

This isn’t the same world as it was before computers.

mojo February 2, 2021 - 7:57 pm

How about an actual stamp/visa, in your actual passport?


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