iOS 15 to Add Verifiable Covid-19 Vaccination Records to Wallet

Image for article titled Apple Will Soon Let You Store Your Covid-19 Vaccine Card in Your iPhone Wallet

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After you install iOS 15 on your iPhone, you’ll be able to store verifiable versions of your covid-19 vaccination and test results records in the Health app. Later this year, an iOS 15 update will also allow you to add and present a verifiable covid-19 vaccine card to your iPhone Wallet app and lock screen.

The upcoming feature is built on the SMART Health Cards framework, an international specification that centers around issuing, transferring, and verifying electronic medical records. It was created as a result of the pandemic and is used by several states, retail pharmacies, and health institutions as a means of providing verifiable vaccination records. Those states include California, Louisiana, New York, Virginia, and Hawaii. Health providers create a digital record, verify it with a private key, and then make that key available to third parties who may require that information to enter, such as restaurants, concert venues, stadiums, and movie theaters.

How it currently works: A healthcare provider sends you a QR code, which you can snap a screenshot or photo of, which will then generate a pop-up in the Camera app that will direct you to the Health app. From there, you can import the covid-19 vaccine or test result records into the Health app. You can also import it into the Health app via a downloadable file or through connected healthcare institutions.

When Apple issues a software update later this year, you’ll also be able to create a vaccination card in the Wallet app. Third parties, such as venues or small businesses, can then scan the information via a verification app to make sure your records are legit and not falsified or altered in Photoshop. The feature will also obscure the full vaccination details in the lockscreen until your identity has been authenticated with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode. Apple didn’t say when this update will roll out.

As always with health data, privacy is paramount. To that end, the HealthKit API will only allow approved third-party apps to request the information in one-time instances. Apple isn’t part of the verification process, and developers are barred from selling or using this data for advertising. Developers are also required to provide a privacy policy and a way for users to delete their data. Basically, Apple can’t see any information on your vaccination card, how you use the card, and there’s no database where Apple can access your records.

Given that some states and businesses now require proof of vaccination, this is a handy feature—especially if you live in a state where there isn’t already an app like New York’s Excelsior Pass Plus. Paper vaccination cards are sometimes flimsy and easily lost, and technically speaking, you shouldn’t get them laminated. It also doesn’t help that some folks are out here actually trying to falsify their vaccine records.

We first heard reports of vaccine cards possibly coming to Apple Wallet back in December, and at WWDC 2021, Apple noted that a major update in iOS 15 would include hotel keys and drivers’ licenses to the Wallet app. The Health app itself has been able to store your medical records for some time now, and adding vaccine records is the logical next step.


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