Starting tomorrow, Monday October 25, many public places in King County will be required to verify either that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or that you have a recent, negative COVID test. Here’s how to prepare to quickly demonstrate that you’ve been vaccinated.
The most fool-proof means will be to show the vaccination card that you were given when you received your vaccine shots. You can either show the card itself, or a photograph of it. It’s worth taking a moment right now to take and store a photo of your vaccination card on your phone so that you can pull it up quickly. This is also helpful because the vaccination cards are an awkward size that don’t fit into a wallet.
If you have lost your original vaccination card, talk to the provider where you received your shots about getting a replacement card. If you received your vaccination at a City of Seattle site, you can call the city’s Customer Service Bureau at (206) 684-2489 and they will assist you.
As a fallback, venues are required to accept a vaccination record issued by your healthcare provider: either a printed copy, or a record displayed in your provider’s iPhone or Android app.
King County and the State of Washington have partnered with MyIR to provide alternative ways to verify your vaccination status. You can visit https://MyIRMobile.com to generate a certificate from the state Department of Health certifying that you have been vaccinated. There are, however, a few tricks and potential stumbling blocks to this process, so it’s worth going through the steps ahead of time and not just before you head out to a restaurant.
MyIR verifies your vaccination status by looking up your immunization records in the state’s records database (healthcare providers send vaccination records to the state to compile), which is super handy if you have lost your vaccination card. To do that though, it requires some identifying information from you so that it can find your record. Unfortunately, many of the records in the state’s database have incorrect information, from misspelling of names to incorrect birth dates. That has led to much confusion and frustration as people have tried to register with MyIR when the system can’t locate their records. Here are two tips to improve your odds of success: first, use King County’s site (https://myirmobile.com) rather than the State’s separate site that many have reported doesn’t work as well. Second, access the site from a desktop or laptop computer rather than a phone’s browser; there are reports that the mobile version of the site also has issues.
If you are not able to successfully register because the system cannot find your immunization record, talk to the healthcare provider where you received your vaccination; they should be able to check the records and update the state’s database if necessary. Again, if you received your vaccination at a City of Seattle site, contact the city at (206) 684-2489; customer service agents can help look up your records and make corrections.
Once you have successfully registered, you can obtain a printed certificate from the State saying that you have been fully vaccinated. Eventually you will also be able to obtain a “Smart Health Card” with a QR code and your vaccination dates — though at the moment this is disabled because MyIR has not been able to sort out issues with the central authority that verifies Smart Health Cards. The certificate is valid but less portable (it’s a full sheet of paper); once it is available again the QR code will be the valuable thing, as there are phone apps available for venue staff to use to scan it and verify your status. You can print the QR code small enough to put in your wallet; you can also take a photo of it with your phone and bring it up when asked to verify your vaccination status. The Smart Health Card is one of the emerging standards for verification that is being adopted in several states — though obviously there are still problems that need to be sorted out.
Another word of warning about the Smart Health Card: first, MyIR has not (yet?) rolled out iPhone and Android apps to access and display the card. You can bring it up on your phone from the web site, but if you find yourself in an internet connectivity desert that option might fail you — all the more reason to have a printed copy of the QR code and/or take a picture of it to store on your phone.
This all certainly raises questions about why you should bother with the high-tech solutions at all, when they seem pretty flaky at the moment. It’s a valid question. At restaurants, it probably won’t matter much, but many larger venues are likely to set up separate lines for people with a QR code that can be scanned quickly. It’s work (and training) for staff to learn about all the different forms of vaccination records they are expected to review and accept, and if your goal is to get through the door with minimal hassle, doing the thing that requires minimal labor and inspection by staff is likely to be the best option.
Over the coming weeks we will likely see additional phone apps appear as alternative forms of digital verification, driven by emerging national standardization and travel-related demands. For example, the State of Hawaii has imposed a mandatory quarantine for those visiting the state unless they can prove that they are vaccinated — and preferably in advance of traveling there. Their verification system involves a complicated mix of a state-run site, third-party vaccine status verifiers, and airlines.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one emerging standard is Clear’s free “Health Pass” app, which is distinct from their fee-for-service app allowing you to bypass security checks at airports and some other large venues likes stadiums and concert arenas. Both Lumen Field and Climate Pledge Arena accept Clear’s app, and encourage guests to use it to access separate lines for entrance to their facilities for events from those showing their vaccination cards or other forms of verification. Their app can be downloaded for both Apple and Android devices. Where possible, it uses industry-standard data protocols to download your vaccination information directly from your healthcare provider (after you grant permission). The State of Hawaii also accepts Clear’s health app for vaccination verification.
One downside of the proliferation of forms of digital vaccination-verification is that we invariably end up providing personal information to a number of third-parties. That raises both privacy concerns as well as potential concerns about identity-theft. You should consider carefully your own tolerance for disclosing personally-identifying information in signing up for these apps and services.
Expect a fair amount of disorganization this coming week as restaurants, bars, and other facilities figure out how to meet their new requirements to verify the vaccination status of their guests. Low-tech will be a good option: your vaccination card, or a photo of it on your phone. If you’ve lost your vaccination card, you can still use MyIRMobile.com to get a printed vaccination certificate from the state by having it look up your vaccination record in the state database; or get a copy of your vaccination record from your healthcare provider.
Be patient, be understanding, and try to get to places early so you have time for this extra step. And please just be extra nice to everyone this week; government officials are trying to keep us all safe and healthy, and the staff at restaurants, bars, theaters, and sports facilities didn’t write these rules even though they have to enforce them.
And if for some reason you haven’t been vaccinated yet, this would be an excellent week to do so — or to get a booster shot if you’re eligible. The Pfizer vaccine in particular has received full FDA approval for ages 12 and up (no longer just emergency use authorization) and is extremely safe.
I hope you found this article valuable. If you did, please take a moment to make a contribution to support my ongoing work. Thanks!