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Health startup seeks to bring COVID-19 vaccine tracking to Apple Wallet

Save your vaccination proof to your Apple Wallet; Image Credit:Bloomberg

Los Angeles County is going to be a testbed for using digital records to track and present proof of vaccinations in Apple Wallet — and give patients notifications for their second shot.

A health startup called Healthvana wants to lead the way for digitizing vaccine data so people can prove they've been fully vaccinated to airlines and event venues. The company has partnered with Los Angeles County to digitize the information and give users notifications to get their second dose.

The initiative is geared primarily towards getting people their second dose, but Healthvana hopes to implement the system for future verification systems. The card would be saved to Apple Wallet for easy access, and users could show the card for access to airlines or concerts in the future.

The technology will be necessary to track people's vaccination status and get to their information quickly. Otherwise, it adds an undue burden to the health officials to surface each patient's medical data every time a vaccination is given.

"We're really concerned," director of vaccine preventable disease control, Claire Jarashow, said. "We really want people to come back for that second dose, we just don't have the capacity to be doing hundreds of medical record requests to find people's first doses and when they need to get their second."

Using Healthvana, users will be notified of their vaccination status and when to return for their second dose. Healthvana started in 2014 as a company that delivered test results for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. COVID-19 had the company move to providing COVID test results to patients instead.

According to Bloomberg, tracking COVID-19 vaccine recipients and authenticating immunization status are poised to become increasingly important in the U.S. as more people are vaccinated. Using a digital method to authenticate those who have been vaccinated leads to some concerns around data collection and privacy, however.

Jarashow acknowledged issues around granting a company access to residents' protected health information but said that they had worked through them. Healthvana stores the data on Amazon Web Services' HIPAA-compliant servers, according to Healthvana CEO Ramon Bastani.

"It's as safe as we can make it," Jarashow said. "Personally I would feel comfortable using it, so I hope that's reassuring."

Healthvana is one of many health startups hoping to digitize medical data, so while Healthvana is being used in Los Angeles County, other startups could crop up to bring the technology to your area. Ultimately, the need to prove your vaccination status could become mandatory in order to get back to a "normal" life.