Saturday, 24 April 2021

The international standard for "vaccination passports"

There continues to be a lot of talk about smartphone apps that would “prove” that you (or the person whose smartphone you borrowed or stole or hacked) have been vaccinated for COVID-19. I talked about the problems with these in an earlier article.

But what you need to know if you are once again thinking about international travel after you are vaccinated for COVID-19 is that (1) anyone crossing an international border or flying internationally in the foreseeable future is likely to have to show evidence of vaccination for COVID-19, and (2) there is currently one, and only one, international standard document — established by international treaty and regulations — for showing that you have been vaccinated for COVID-19 or any other disease.

This is not a smartphone app or digital passport (none of which are even close to international standardization or legal recognition) but the same document that has been used for this purpose for decades: the passport-sized World Health Organization International Certificate of Vaccination or “Yellow Book”.

The best way to be sure that you will be able to satisfy current and future vaccination requirements for international travel is to get your vaccinations recorded in one of these standard yellow books.

Most COVID-19 vaccination sites don’t have blank yellow books available, so get one before you your vaccination appointment. Blank yellow books are currently out of stock from the U.S. Government Printing Office, but have been available (quite legitimately) from third-party resellers on eBay,, and elsewhere. Even in the U.S., it’s fine to use the World Health Organization version if that’s easier to get a copy of than the U.S. version.

I got my COVID-19 vaccination shots entered in my yellow book without difficulty, once I presented my yellow book and explained that it was the international standard form of vaccination record. I also got the white card being used in the U.S. for COVID-19 vaccination records.

My partner had a similar experience. Ask politely, and be prepared for a short wait while they figure out what to do. Older health workers may remember the yellow book from when it was routinely used to record cholera and yellow fever vaccinations required for some international travel, but younger vaccination site workers may never have seen one before. My fellow travel writer Christopher Elliott also reported a similar experience.

Some countries will undoubtedly recognize the non-standard U.S. white card, but others may insist on the yellow book, especially if you don’t want to install their proprietary app on your smartphone. If there’s any possibility that you might want to travel internationally, get your vaccination recorded in your yellow book.

Link | Posted by Edward on Saturday, 24 April 2021, 06:13 ( 6:13 AM)

One reader on Twitter says:

I did bring it and they were like "I have no clue what this is and don't want to fill it out."

This was at a site run by the New York City Department of Health. The person I spoke to didn't fill it in, and I didn't feel like pushing the issue far enough to see if I could've found someone else onsite who would or not.

I'll see what happens with the 2nd dose.

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 24 April 2021, 09:55 ( 9:55 AM)

I brought my yellow book to the SF Moscone vaccination site, and after a short consultation between my nurse and her supervisor, they had no trouble entering the vaccination into it (as well as into the throwaway white card).

Posted by: John, 24 April 2021, 20:37 ( 8:37 PM)

Here's another traveller's report:

Travelling to Iceland when vaccinated — my experience and what to expect (by Andrew Kunesh, The Points Guy, 27 March 2021):

"I waited roughly 20 minutes for my turn in the immigration line. Once called forward, the border control agent... asked to see my passport and vaccine card. At first, she asked if I had my vaccine proof on the WHO 'yellow book' that was also in my passport. I said no, and the agent asked another person in the booth who took a second look at my [CDC] card....

"The border agent then scanned my passport and said I was good to go.... [T]he new entry requirements went into place just days before I arrived, and there have only been a handful of flights from the U.S. to Iceland since then. This was likely one of the first times this agent has seen a CDC-issued vaccine card..."

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 25 April 2021, 09:23 ( 9:23 AM)

Safe and effective vaccines are a game-changing tool: but for the foreseeable future we must continue wearing masks, cleaning our hands, ensuring good ventilation indoors, physically distancing and avoiding crowds.

Being vaccinated does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk, particularly because research is still ongoing into how much vaccines protect not only against disease but also against infection and transmission.

Posted by: Shubham kumar, 20 September 2021, 08:16 ( 8:16 AM)
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