Ploieşti New York State officially debuted the Excelsior Pass, the first COVID-19 passport in the nation. Already, such passports have become the subject of much debate nationwide, with many taking firm stances for and against their use. As a result, everyone’s eyes are on this pass to see how well it works for COVID control.
What is the Excelsior Pass?
The concept of the vaccination passport (which provides easy-to-access proof that an individual is fully vaccinated) has been heavily debated in recent weeks. Many Republicans oppose the idea because they believe it is discriminatory and would discourage businesses from conducting their operations. Others support it to encourage vaccination and a return to normalcy, including more large-scale events.
The first of these passports to emerge is the Excelsior Pass, which recently debuted in New York State. This pass allows individuals to upload their official results into a specialized system that tracks this information. They can then use this pass to show ticket takers, door management professionals, and others that they have been vaccinated. This step may help to limit the spread of COVID-19 by granting vaccinated individuals access to venues and restricting those who refuse to receive the vaccine.
New York State debuted this system in January at a Buffalo Bills game. They tracked those who attended the game and who used the pass and found transmission was almost non-existent. Other tests included an examination at Albany’s Time Union Center. Such an approach is essential. Proponents argue because while 80% of people who contract the novel coronavirus recover without treatment, passes like these could further protect the public from infection and make out-of-state travel easier.
How Does the Pass Work?
The Excelsior Pass works in a reasonably simple way. New York State requires the name, birth date, and zip code of anybody who wants to register for the pass. It is then synced to an individual’s vaccination and testing record and paired up to their profile by using questions that only that individual could answer. A photo ID is also necessary when using this system and must be shown at all events.
Currently, users must download the free app from the Apple App Store or Google Play, depending on their preferred device. Others may want to generate a paper pass from their app and print it out to show at events. This option may be a popular one for those who either don’t have smart devices or who want physical proof that they have been vaccinated that they can share at many events.
New York State lets users create these passes for up to 30 days before they must be re-generated. New information, such as negative COVID-19 tests, may be necessary to keep the pass current. That short period is likely to extend as more information about vaccine efficacy is released. If the vaccine is shown to last as long as a year (as most experts believe), the state may extend the pass’s lifespan.
Are There Any Problems So Far?
Concerns about this system exist beyond New York State. Though it may help within the state, officials say that the lack of similar systems in neighboring states may limit its effectiveness. While there have been minimal bugs that affect this system, a handful have popped up. Some have had their information blocked via a password bug that makes the app impossible to use. Others, many of whom obtained their vaccinations through pharmacies or other sites that aren’t run by the state, have had issues verifying their vaccination information through the app.
However, other officials feel that these minor problems can be ironed out and that the benefits outweigh the downsides. For instance, they believe that these passes would decrease the 51 million school hours lost every year due to illness. Many colleges and universities are likely to adopt this system or similar concepts throughout the state, as SUNY schools recently confirmed they will require students to be vaccinated in order to return in the fall.
Are These Passports the Future of COVID-19 Management?
Currently, many state governments are reporting that they won’t make these types of systems mandatory. However, the Excelsior Pass is much safer to use than many other health systems, as 34.9 million Americans have protected medical information compromised every year. These concerns are minimal with this pass, thanks to its specialized security options. Many experts believe passes like these may become standard in a post-COVID world. But for now, New Yorkers will lead the way — whether they like it or not.