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Privacy concerns grow as states consider vaccine passports

A growing number of states are coming forward with their own plans to use so-called Covid-19 vaccine passports, even though there's no federal plan to implement any kind of passport system in the U.S.

Covid-19 digital vaccine passports are quickly becoming a divisive issue and raising privacy concerns. And as some states figure out how to implement them, tech giants are teaming up with health organizations to make their digital covid pass a reality for consumers.

The vaccination credential initiative has teamed up companies including IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle. The Mayo Clinic joining forces with the non-profit, The Commons Project Foundation, on a vaccine passport app currently working with some airlines.

Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, Chief Medical Officer for Salesforce, says the app works just like others.

"You get your vaccination or your Covid 19 test you're negative and you get your vaccination and you can download that onto your smartphone, into your Apple Wallet or Google pay and you store it in there"

But not everyone is on board. While the companies say no location or medical data will be stored on the apps, that issue is raising concerns for potential users. And Dr. Anand Swaminathan, Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, says there's also equity concerns.

"Not everybody has a smartphone", Swaminathan said, "I have patients with flip phones, with those little burner phones."

The vaccination credential initiative is playing a key role in developing U.S. standards and guidelines for these digital health passes. Paul Meyer, CEO, The Commons Project Foundation, says it's up to each community and institution to decide how to use the apps.

"I think some employers are making a decision to require vaccination", said Meyer, "And I think the EEOC issues a ruling in December that it's up to employers to make that decision"

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