How Do We Handle Medical Privacy Concerns About a COVID Vaccine Passport?

Published on March 23, 2021

The world wants to get back to work. And the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across the globe can make that happen. The vaccine is your ticket to get back to life. But anytime you have something of great value, there are forfeitures and frauds, which introduce data privacy, medical data confidentiality, and accessibility concerns.

If I’m claiming to have my vaccine, you assume that I’m telling you the truth. The only way to confirm that is if you have access to my medical records, which HIPAA does not allow. And it only gets more complicated. What about other countries? Some countries may say that it’s a requirement, and other countries may allow you to access that information.

It’s clear there’s a need for a vaccine certification system. But how do we protect that information and how does that affect travel? The solution has to begin with the government.

Governments and administrations will have to decide which type and system format they will put in place. Plus, two things will need to be agreed upon globally: what the document looks like and how it’s validated. Someone needs to take the lead on this, and a collective effort needs to follow if we are ever to get people safely moving again.

Once that global validation system is solidified, protecting it comes next. If it’s a digital “passport” downloaded on a smartphone, how is that private information kept safe? Not to mention, what happens to people who don’t have phones? This is where tapping into the Silicon Valleys of the world comes into play.

There are already privacy and safety companies functioning in the travel space. At Jet It, we teamed up with strategic security and intelligence firm Concentric to ensure our high net worth clients’ privacy is upheld. Some businesses, for example, don’t want their competitors to know where they are traveling because it could reveal a new technology they’re working on. Companies like Concentric can provide detailed privacy analysis, physical and digital security, and safety evaluations.

And let’s not forget, similar systems are already in place around the world. Global Entry, for example, allows travelers to enter countries on a streamlined system that validates their status while protecting that private information. Plus, airlines like Cathay Pacific have already completed the technology trials designed to validate and refine the departure processes using the CommonPass app. 

So, governments need to bring these types of companies into this conversation when it comes to the pandemic because this is their space. We don’t have to start from a blank page. There are a lot of brains already thinking about these solutions and developing or have the technology. It just needs to be applied on a much grander scale. Although it’s unique and in a different paradigm, it still is within their purview. 

Look, it’s understandable that we want these solutions now. Coming out of the pandemic is like a rainy week in elementary school when the sun came out on Friday. You get so excited about Friday because the weekend’s coming, and after a rainy week, you get a chance to go out for recess. How excited are you when the teacher opens the door and says, it’s time for recess? You can’t control the excitement. That’s the world right now. 

So many customers say they need to get back on the road for business. There’s the hunger of the sales rep that wants to be out on the hunt and is tired of trying to close deals without demonstrating their human element. The engineers who know the failure of a part is coming up and need to be in-person to inspect it. We’re trying to do things virtually, and there’s only so much that can be accomplished. The whole world is ready to head out to recess. 

But as the world does open up, privacy with a COVID passport needs to be a high-priority topic to make sure that people are staying safe. And (knock on wood) if coronavirus surges again or another pandemic hits, the world will be in a better place to handle it, potentially limiting long-term shutdowns. 

Right now, the focus should be on selecting the correct format of a vaccination certification system to reduce the risk of fraud and ensure data protection.

Glenn Gonzales is the founder and CEO of Jet It LLC, a disruptor in the provision of private transportation. Prior to forming Jet It, Glenn provided transportation solutions as the Regional Sales Manager for the Eastern United States for Honda Aircraft Company. Glenn began his aviation career in the USAF, as a T-38A Instructor Pilot and his military career culminated as an F-15C Flight Commander and 4-Ship Flight Lead. He has a MBA from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, and a Masters in Aeronautical Sciences from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Air Force Academy earning a B.S. degree in Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Human Factors Engineering. Glenn has served as a spokesman for Make a Wish, founded a military community outreach organization, the “71st Fighter Squadron Iron Foundation”, and served as Program Coordinator for Special Olympics, Area 22 regional competition. He has spoken at countless universities, corporations, primary schools and community organizations sharing his career experiences, and the business of private aviation. Glenn continues his community outreach and through Jet It has helped raise just shy of $1M for charities and non-profit organizations. Mr. Gonzales is a Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF Reserves, and is married to his wife of 18 years, the former Tanika Archer.

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