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Vaccinated Los Angeles County residents now have access to a digital vaccine card on their Android phones through a new alliance with Google.
The tool, launched Wednesday, is the latest in a chain of private and public efforts to help vaccinated people log when and where they got the shot. And it may soon be available in other cities.
The feature only works for residents vaccinated at Healthvana-supported clinics and pop-up sites. iPhone users in L.A. have had access to this feature since December, when the county partnered with Healthvana on releasing the tech.
But it's not the only way to access proof of vaccination in your phone. California put out its own platform two weeks ago. After filling out an online form with personal information, the system locates each patient's vaccine history and delivers it to the user via QR code.
As of Wednesday afternoon, over a million people have used the state's tool to save their COVID-19 vaccine records, according to California Department of Public Health spokesperson Sami Gallegos.
You'll know if you were vaccinated at a Healthvana location after receiving an email from Healthvana soon after the appointment.
But there's a chance that email might take a while, Healthvana's CEO and founder Ramin Bastani said. If that's the case, he suggests contacting the company directly.
The Android wallet feature will go live in new cities soon, Bastani said, but only where Healthvana was already working with municipalities and healthcare providers.
"It's not like anyone with an Android phone could just upload this onto their phone," Bastani said. "So if it's a state, for example in the Midwest, we need to already be delivering their vaccination records."
This article has been updated with Ramin Bastani's correct title, CEO and founder of Healthvana.
California has unveiled a statewide digital vaccine record three days after the state reopened its economy.
While California has given individuals free reign on whether or not they want to wear their masks, businesses are still allowed to impose regulations such as requiring proof of a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination to enter their establishment without a mask.
The digital card is an alternative to the paper vaccination card. And signing up for it is voluntary.
Here's how it works: People can go to the state's website and enter their full name, date of birth and a cell phone number or email address, and create a four-digit pin used to access the record. The state will send a link to the digital record that will last 24 hours. It's a scannable QR code that shows what brand vaccine was given, and the dates of each dose.
Los Angeles County already partnered with Healthvana, a healthcare startup that repurposed its HIV results platform into a COVID-19 vaccination platform, where people can access a digital copy of their vaccination and put it in their Apple Wallet for easy access.
Shira Shafir, a UCLA associate professor of epidemiology said that the state's vaccination is more accessible and could encourage wider use because it doesn't require access to high speed internet or a smart phone.
"We know a lot of people in California don't have access to either of those things," she said.
Governor Gavin Newsom stressed earlier this week the system would not be a passport.A program in Santa Ana, California to create voluntary digital vaccination records sparked protests in May.
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Sharon Town Lee ripped off a cluster of laminated public health flyers from the front window of her pet grooming salon in Santa Monica Tuesday.
It's June 15, the day widespread mask mandates and social distancing protocols in California become concepts of the past.
Sports fans and concert goers can now scream into the air. At Disneyland, visitors can again wait in long lines and crowd around princesses as the park expands its capacity limits.
Under state protocols, vaccinated individuals are no longer required to cover their faces at gyms, in the grocery store or other indoor settings — minus a few exceptions.
And many business owners including Town Lee are letting customers inside mask-free, without checking vaccination records.
Sharon Town Lee ripped off a cluster of laminated public health flyers from the front window of her pet grooming salon in Santa Monica.Photo by Francesca Billington
"It's not our responsibility to show whether you've been vaccinated," said Town Lee, who chairs the local business district spanning Pico Boulevard and gave her employees incentives to get vaccinated.
The state's updates come as a relief. Town Lee, who is hearing impaired, can read her customers' lips again. While her small shop was largely empty in the morning, most people walking along the business district wore masks.
Private businesses can now pick between one of three state protocols: require all patrons to wear a mask, trust customers who say they've gotten the shot or establish a "vaccination verification process."
"It's a sensitive thing to ask people," said Rod Martinez, a supervisor at Literati Cafe in Los Angeles. "So we're not."
The question of enforcement remains murky — not to mention optional.
Last week, Newsom hinted at a new state-endorsed verification system to help private businesses hoping to check. SFGate reported that it'll look like a digital vaccine card designed to replace the paper ones issued by pharmacies and doctors.
How — and even if — stores and restaurants will ask customers to prove vaccination credentials is up to them, Newsom said. The governor was quick to remind viewers that his tech system isn't a so-called vaccine "passport," messaging that echoes tech startups like Healthvana.
"There's no mandates, no requirements, no passports in that respect," Newsom said during a press briefing Friday after drawing more winners for the state's cash vaccine incentive program.
Some business owners worry that requiring masks could turn off potential customers. Town Lee said that it almost feels like discriminating against people who don't want to be vaccinated for a variety of reasons.
At Ace Hardware in West L.A. store manager Brian Peacock said that three hours after opening, only one customer stepped inside without a mask.
"He walked in and said, 'I'm vaccinated!'" said Peacock. "For the most part, everybody has been wanting to wear a mask."
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