PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As Oregon prepares to lift indoor mask mandates by March 31, the state is also planning to launch voluntary digital COVID-19 vaccine cards, which would allow residents the option to prove vaccination status using just their cell phones.
The Oregon Health Authority began developing the optional digital vaccine verification tool in early December, though the program has largely flown under the radar.
The tool, which is closely modeled after those rolled out in California and Washington, would grant Oregonians a digital option to verify vaccination status, in addition to the CDC-approved paper vaccine cards.
Similar to the Washington model, the OHA pilot program would prompt opt-in residents to provide their name, birth date and contact information, along with a security password and pin to confirm and match State immunization records.
According to OHA, once vaccination status is confirmed, the user would be notified with a link to their corresponding digital vaccine card and state-approved digital QR (or quick-response) code.
KOIN 6 News reached out to OHA for an update on the program roll-out and received the following response:
“OHA is still testing this tool, which will be available for free to anyone in Oregon who received a COVID-19 vaccine,” OHA Lead Communications Officer Jonathan Modie said.
The agency previously said the tool would be available to all Oregonians who received a vaccine, regardless of whether the vaccination was recorded in their electronic health records or not. According to OHA, the tool was primarily designed to increase equity, especially for residents who received a vaccine through a pop-up clinic and may not have had their online records updated.
During a recent press conference OHA Director, Patrick Allen said, “What we’re trying to do is provide that same easy capability to people who don’t have easy access to an electronic health record.”
OHA did not provide an exact date for the roll-out but told KOIN 6 News they plan to officially launch the tool by late March.
“It’ll be an electronic means for people in Oregon to share their vaccination status with businesses that ask for proof of verification,” Modie stated. “And will be completely voluntary.”
According to OHA, the digital QR code should be an accepted, valid form of vaccine verification at most Oregon businesses, restaurants and events.
OHA told KOIN 6 News it is still too early for residents to opt-in for the program, but they plan to announce digital vaccine card sign-ups when the tool becomes available to the public.