A vaccination certification had been a sticky subject worldwide, putting many questions and potentially paving the way towards clearing borders and permitting a degree of travel between neighboring regions.
With countries in the Southeast Asian region currently experiencing their vaccination methods, some mention building a shared digital certificate that declares the bearer’s vaccination status. Taking the first step towards an acknowledged system in Malaysia and Singapore, with governments on both sides saying they will mutually recognize each other’s vaccine certificate, most likely viewable on a smartphone, in the first steps towards allowing travel between both countries in over a year.
Traditionally, immunizations are tracked through written records or even patient electronic medical records. However, the global scale of the pandemic requires a different system. It needs to be more easily accessible and portable for people to access schools, offices, and event venues.
Reports suggest that those digital records need to be “interoperable,” meaning all organizations administering the shots should use the same model for recording vaccine credentials. Most importantly, the vaccination record also needs to be verifiable and secure to avoid fakes.
Malaysia’ Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed in his latest Facebook post that after meeting with Singapore’s Foreign Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, the vaccination certificates from both sides of the Causeway would be secured using blockchain technology to provide verifiable traceability, right down to the same vaccine vial used for the vaccination. And yes, by hosting the digital records on the blockchain, both countries can allow for an interoperable, securely accessible form of immunization status.
“The interoperability between the digital certification systems used in both countries will be crucial especially when taking into account standards set by World Health Organization (WHO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), and other countries,” said the minister.
The security and interoperable functionality of the distributed ledger technology that underlies blockchain systems is being harnessed more and more to securely trace supply chain records and provide real-time visibility to the necessary participants of the chain.
Blockchain was a natural option to consider for tracing vaccination distribution itself, given the global scale and the specific conditions for storing vaccine shots, which the technology was well capable of. Its immutable record capability allows for trusty vaccine certificate record-keeping as well.
Besides Malaysia, Singapore’s Dr. Balakrishnan will also be visiting Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia, suggesting plans for a unified or mutually-accepted vaccine credential throughout Southeast Asia is not out of the question.
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