UC San Diego Patients Can Now Access Digital Vaccine Card Through Patient Portal

The idea is that the digital card provides a secure and private record that can be used to verify a person's vaccination status with outside entities

Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

UC San Diego Health patients now have access to a digital vaccine record within the health care system's internal system.

The SMART health card is a digital version of the physical COVID-19 vaccination records that are handed out to patients after they've received at least one shot of a COIVD-19 vaccine. It also keeps track of COVID-19 test results.

The idea is that the digital card provides a secure and private record that can be used to verify a person's vaccination status with outside entities, UC San Diego Health said. The card can only be accessed with a four-digit PIN number and the digital record is HIPAA protected.

With a few personal details -- name, date of birth and email or phone number -- the Smart health card provides a link to a QR code and a digital copy of the vaccination record.

"As an alternative to the paper card, the SMART Health Card cannot be lost or damaged. It is secure and protects the privacy of patient information," said Dr. Christopher Longhurst, chief information officer at UC San Diego Health.

Californians have been able to access a portal to their vaccination record through a state-run website, but UC San Diego Health is connecting their patients directly to the tool through their own MYUCSDChart patient portal.

The QR code can only be read by SMART health card-compliant devices. The state says individuals should ask organizations how they will use the scanned data or if they will keep it. 

As people try to emerge from the pandemic, the focus turns to the best ways to socialize and travel again. Digital Vaccine Passports are one way experts have suggested will help streamline the process, but the technology doesn't come without criticism and concerns.

The state maintains that the SMART card is not a vaccine passport. It is up to a patient's discretion whether to use the digital card. Some larger events and businesses may require proof of vaccination in order to attend or enter. In those cases, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to show their vaccination status to attend.

Any patient or employee, as well as those who were vaccinated through UCSD but may not be patients, can access the SMART card through the MYUCSDChart patient portal.

UC San Diego Health says they're the first health care system in the country to use the Smart health card directly, though several businesses and government agencies have already adopted the tool.

More information about UC San Diego Health's SMART health card tool can be found here.

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