Dan Taft

Are You Vaccinated? The Answer Could Start Showing Up on Background Reports

Companies could potentially look to background checks for proof of vaccination.

Are You Vaccinated? The Answer Could Start Showing Up on Background Reports

It’s an absolutely terrifying thought. But how far fetched is it really? With authoritarianism seemingly on the rise globally, fascism everywhere we look, possible martial law on the distant horizon… could proof of Covid vaccination be something we start seeing show up on background checks? And who exactly will be accessing those?

At the moment the answer is no. So take a deep breath, but not too deep, as vaccine mandates are certainly starting to go mainstream. Want to join a gym? Might need that vax. How about your favorite watering hole? Or gastropub? Wanna hit up that Phish concert coming to town? You may need to show proof of vaccination to get in the door...

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The days of telling the bouncer “yeah, I’m vaccinated,” are over. That sticker they gave you when you got the shot? That ain’t gonna cut it either. So what exactly will you need to show to gain access to your favorite local spots? And how will this system work exactly without violating your privacy? Are background reports really going to come into play here?

Read on if you want those answers.

Streamlining the System

Everyone who got the vax got the CDC issued proof of inoculation card. It’s a bit low-tech, but it works. If someone asks if you got the shot, just show that card, and you should be good to go. But the problem with this little card is obvious, right? If you’re the kind of person who misplaces their keys or their glasses once or twice a month (oh who are we kidding, more like once or twice a day!), that CDC proof of vax card is bound to get lost or left behind when you leave the house.

The flip side of this is the place of business’ perspective: for them, it can be tough to ensure the CDC issued proof of vaccination card is legit. Afterall, it’s the 2020s now; forgery isn’t exactly rocket science.

Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, was quoted as saying “The CDC Covid Vaccine Certificate is certainly not as official or secure as it could have been, but it will likely have to suffice."

Last year, when the CDC cards were first distributed along with the shots, fakes immediately started popping up. You could even buy them online at popular sites like Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy. There’s been a crackdown on the fraudulent cards ever since, and now their black market has largely dried up.

Except on the dark web, where, according to Saoud Khalifah, CEO of FakeSpot, the fake CDC proof of vax cards are plentiful. "There has been a definite rise because there is a significant part of the population interested in this, and wherever there is demand there is supply," Khailfah said. "If you want to get it, you can get it. It's available — even through very popular platforms."

FakeSpot’s CEO went on to say that some fraudsters have been hacking the CDC’s database itself to produce the imitations. And to the untrained eye, these fake proof of vax cards look 100% legit.

And here's where the background reports could start to come into play...

Enter the Smartphone

So we’ve established the CDC’s proof of Covid vaccination card can very easily be lost. But, while the paper card is very much analog, your smartphone is equally as much digital. Simply take a photograph of your CDC issued card, and store it either in your phone’s photo album or wallet for safekeeping.

As Dr. Robert Quigley, global medical director of medical and security service company International SOS has stated, "If you lose your card, that's an issue. You can go back to wherever you got the vaccination at a clinic or hospital or doctor's office or pharmacy and they'll have to reissue the card, but it becomes cumbersome and people don't like cumbersome."

Many businesses are fine with patrons showing their proof of vaccination via their phone’s photo album. As it’s still early in the mandatory vax world, other businesses are currently okay with the good old honor system.

The question is, how long will that last? And will background checks come into play at some point? Morgan Stanley, a globally renowned investment bank, has begun requiring proof of vaccination for all those who walk through its New York office doors. The company has created a portal where all clients and employees must declare their vaccination status, but not necessarily provide records.

Meanwhile, New York City based Soul Cycle spin studios and Equinox gyms are requiring their members to be vaccinated, and they want receipts. CDC issued cards, digital photographic proof of vaccination, or regional pass only need apply.

Phase 2: Enter the Apps

What does the ven diagram of private corporations and local and state government apps look like? Vaccine verification is giving us a sneak peek. Tech companies along with their advocates are making the case that these apps will streamline the vaccine verification process. For a waiter at a restaurant, or a bouncer at the local dive bar, all they’d need to do is see a little green check mark instead of reading the fine print on the CDC issued card to verify authenticity.

Other institutions and establishments have gone ahead and made their own portals and apps, like the one we mentioned above for Morgan Stanley. New York’s Columbia University is another one, as they’ve begun requiring all staff and faculty members to upload a digital copy of their CDC issued vaccination card to their app.

This may become the standard across the board. Former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, no stranger to controversy, made the announcement just before he left office that all of New York City will be requiring proof of vaccination for theaters, gyms, and restaurants. The initiative was named the "Key to NYC Pass," and its protocol includes the CDC issued vaccination cards, the city’s own “Covid Safe” app, and New York state’s “Excelsior Pass” app.

As of now, these and only these options will be considered acceptable proof of vaccination for New York City. In September of 2021 it became the rule of law. Other states are quickly following suit, with Utah, Louisiana, Colorado, California, and New Jersey all creating their own apps and portals. Anyone who received their vaccine at a pharmacy can access their digital records directly from CVS and Walgreens.

The question now is, will this digital footprint begin showing up on background reports?

How It All Works

When it comes to official proof of vaccination, one term trumps them all: “government compliant.” That’s what “VaxYes” boasts. As a leading digital vaccination verification app, the international VaxYes is being put to use by everyone from giant corporations, down to day laborers and gig workers in the share economy.

But that’s not all the app is good for. Patrons and consumers alike are using VaxYes to gain entry to restaurants, nightclubs and bars, all of which are beginning to require proof of vaccination more and more by the day.

But nightclub and restaurant employees aren’t experts at verifying the authenticity of CDC issued vaccination cards, and this is where an app like VaxYes really comes in handy. Instead of having to worry about training employees to spot fraudulent cards, the app takes care of the dirty work.

After uploading a digital copy of the vaccination card, users achieve a Level 1 verification status. The app will peruse the documents to confirm the user’s identification credentials match the info on their CDC issued card. It then scans for fraud flags, using AI to verify validity, cross referencing photos with the entered immunization records.

If that all sounds a little creepy to you, you’re not alone. The one good thing we can say is at the moment, background reports and checks have not entered the picture. But that doesn’t mean they can’t. Airlines are currently using apps like AOKpass from International SOS to verify vaccination records. The digital pass relies on blockchain technology to issue users a portable copy of their medical records -- this provides a serious level of safety, security and privacy, which are all very good things.

VaxYes’ CEO, Mohammed Gaber, put it like this: "People can and have forged their paper document, so the ideal way to verify that you've been vaccinated is to have a setup like the one we have whereby there is a closed circuit between you, the health care provider and the lab doing the testing."

It’s a good point. But again one that raises the question: is the next step for Covid-19 vaccine verification background checks? Will these innoculations become a matter of public record, where anyone at any time can access your vaccine history? Only time will tell. For now, it’s best to assess all information available, turning to your medical professionals whenever you have pertinent questions. And, if you’re curious to see just what might be showing up on your background reports, use a reputable provider such as PeopleWhiz.

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