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What is a COVID-19 vaccine passport, and do I need one?

What they look like and why you might want one depend on where you live, but more private venues, workplaces and governments are requiring proof of vaccination in public settings.

August 27, 2021 / 09:45 AM IST
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Representative Image


What is a COVID-19 vaccine passport, and do I need one?


“Vaccine passports” are digital or paper documents that show you were vaccinated against COVID-19, and could help you get into a growing number of places.


What they look like and why you might want one depend on where you live, but more private venues, workplaces and governments are requiring proof of vaccination in public settings.


Europe and U.S. states like California and New York created official digital credentials that let you verify your COVID-19 immunization record and convert it into a scannable QR code you can pull up on your cellphone.


Most places that require vaccination proof also accept simpler options, such as the paper card noting the dates of your shots from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the U.S., showing a photo of that card on your phone will usually suffice.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Denmark, Greece, France, Italy, some Canadian provinces and the U.S. cities of New Orleans, New York and San Francisco are among the places that have vaccination requirements to get into places like indoor restaurants or theaters. Enforcement varies and many places also accept a recent negative test for the virus, a partial vaccination or proof that you previously recovered from the disease.


Even without government mandates, more businesses in countries where vaccines are readily available are starting to ask for proof that you got the shots, so long as their local governments haven’t blocked them from doing so.


Officials around the world were initially reluctant to mandate vaccines, but some now hope doing so will persuade more people to get the shots. Businesses requiring proof of vaccination say they are trying to make customers and employees feel safe.

Protesters in France and elsewhere have criticized vaccine mandates as invasive and restricting freedom of movement. Privacy advocates have raised concerns about getting people in the habit of having their phones scanned wherever they go, and generally favor options that won’t be tracked, such as a paper record or a digital copy in your phone that can be shown at the door.

Associated Press
first published: Aug 27, 2021 09:45 am
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