“I think it’s going to work pretty well”: Governor Charlie Baker says of new passport for COVID vaccine

Governor Charlier Baker on Monday afternoon defended Massachusetts’ new digital COVID vaccine verification tool, while acknowledging that it will not work instantly for people with immunity outside the Commonwealth.

Baker has refrained from requiring proof of vaccination to enter indoor Massachusetts facilities, although Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s vaccination passport goes into effect on Saturday.

Massachusetts has had a “soft launch” of the “My Vax Records” tool in recent weeks, Baker told reporters following a meeting with leaders from Beacon Hill at State House. But earlier Monday, his administration unveiled the technology to the public, encouraging residents to visit MyVaxRecords.Mass.Gov, which will extract health data from the Massachusetts Immunization Information System.

Residents will ultimately download a QR code that certifies their COVID vaccination status, using the SMART Health Card platform which is in use in about a dozen other states. Similar to a physical copy of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card, this electronic status record will show a person’s date of birth, the date of COVID vaccination, and the vaccine manufacturer.

Baker said the digital immunization card could help people who travel. Even if individuals do not have their physical CDC immunization card with them, they can still visit the state government website and download an electronic record, after providing basic information such as their date of birth. and their cell phone number.

“The benefit of this digital vaccine card is that your information is downloaded to your phone, if you choose to do so – or to your device, regardless of which device you downloaded to,” Baker said. “And it’s not just your COVID vaccination history, you can get your entire vaccination history. And if you haven’t been boosted and you are at some point, that data will be added automatically.

The electronic check-in Massachusetts rolled out is intended to align with similar passports already implemented or under development in other states across the country, a Baker administration official said earlier Monday. But it’s a voluntary tool – and for the sake of simplicity, people can always show their physical CDC card or a photo of it on their smartphones.

If Massachusetts residents are vaccinated elsewhere, even across state borders in New Hampshire or Connecticut, Baker said they will need to contact their health care provider to update their vaccination information. However, the tool captures vaccination data from Veterans Affairs.

“I think it’s a much more user-friendly and efficient way to make this tool available to people if they want to use it,” Baker said. “I think it’s going to work out pretty well.”

Maria D. Ervin