The U.S. has no universal way to verify vaccination status or the legitimacy of a card. Federal statute prohibits the fraudulent use of an agency or department seal, but cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services are easy to mimic and, unlike a driver’s license, don’t have a scannable barcode or watermark. Differences in the information printed on the cards, and how it’s printed, add to the difficulty of verifying them.
Speaking Thursday at a COVID-19 task force briefing, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said the White House applauds local innovation to verify vaccination status.
“There are a number of ways people can demonstrate their vaccination status. Companies and organizations and the federal government are taking different approaches,” he said. “As with all other vaccines, the information gets held at the state and local level.”
Tashof Bernton, a Colorado physician who specializes in internal medicine and occupational medicine, said the absence of a single national database and state databases with their own limitations means there’s no perfect way to authenticate cards.
“Now we’re in a situation where we’re kind of stuck with paper cards because so many people have them,” he said.