Immunity passport

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An Italian health pass (fede di sanita) for travel during times of plague, 1611 Italian health pass 1611.jpg
An Italian health pass (fede di sanità) for travel during times of plague, 1611

An immunity passport, [1] immunity certificate, [2] health pass or release certificate [3] (among other names used by various local authorities) is a document, whether in paper or digital format, attesting that its bearer has a degree of immunity to a contagious disease. [4] Public certification is an action that governments can take to mitigate an epidemic. [5]


When it takes into account natural immunity or very recent negative test results, an immunity passport cannot be reduced to a vaccination record or vaccination certificate that proves someone has received certain vaccines verified by the medical records of the clinic where the vaccines were given. [6] , such as the Carte Jaune ("yellow card") issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), which works as an official vaccination record.

The concept of immunity passports has received much attention during the COVID-19 pandemic as a potential way to contain the pandemic and permit faster economic recovery. [7] Reliable serological testing for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus is done to certify people as relatively immune to COVID-19 and issue immunity documentation. [8]


Sample of a certificate, which should inter alia demonstrate immunity to yellow fever caused by illness. It was used for immigration to the United States in the late 19th century. Health and Acclimation Certificate (cropped).gif
Sample of a certificate, which should inter alia demonstrate immunity to yellow fever caused by illness. It was used for immigration to the United States in the late 19th century.

Quarantine has been used since ancient times as a method of limiting the spread of infectious disease. Consequently, there has also been a need for documents attesting that a person has completed quarantine or is otherwise known not to be infectious. Since the 1600s, various Italian states issued fedi di sanità to exempt their bearers from quarantine. [10]

The International Certificate of Vaccination (Carte Jaune) is a certificate of vaccination and prophylaxis, not immunity. The document has remained largely unchanged since it was adopted by the International Sanitary Convention of 1944. [11] The certificate is most commonly associated with Yellow Fever, but it is also used to track vaccination against other illnesses.

Modern definition

An immunity certificate is a legal document issued by a testing authority following a serology test demonstrating that the bearer has antibodies making them relatively immune to a disease.

These antibodies can either be produced naturally by recovering from the disease, or triggered through vaccination or another medical procedure.

Reliable immunity certificates can be used to exempt holders from quarantine and social distancing restrictions, permitting them to travel and work in most areas, including high-risk occupations such as medical care.

In the COVID-19 context, it has been argued that such certificates are of practical use to society only if all of the following conditions can be satisfied: [12] [13] [14] [15]

However, some long-standing vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization, [16] such as Meningococcal vaccine, are less than 100% effective and their protection is not everlasting.


In 2021, as COVID-19 vaccines became more publicly accessible, some governments began to authorize health credentials either as a document or in a digital form. These "vaccine passports" are used to control public access to indoor venues (like bars, restaurants, spas, and casinos) and very large gatherings (like concerts, festivals, and sporting events) and not just to facilitate travel. Depending upon the requirements of the issuing authority, an applicant would need to provide either proof of vaccination(s), a negative COVID-19 test, proof of a recovery from the virus, or some combination of these. [17] Their usage and implementation has been controversial and has raised various scientific, medical, ethical, legal, discrimination, privacy, civil rights, and human rights concerns.

See also

Related Research Articles

Vaccine Pathogen-derived preparation that provides acquired immunity to an infectious disease

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future. Vaccines can be prophylactic, or therapeutic. Some vaccines offer full sterilizing immunity, in which infection is prevented completely.

Meningococcal disease Medical condition

Meningococcal disease describes infections caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. It has a high mortality rate if untreated but is vaccine-preventable. While best known as a cause of meningitis, it can also result in sepsis, which is an even more damaging and dangerous condition. Meningitis and meningococcemia are major causes of illness, death, and disability in both developed and under-developed countries.

International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis International certificate of vaccination

The International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP), also known as the Carte Jaune or Yellow Card, is an official vaccination report created by the World Health Organization (WHO). As a travel document, it is a kind of medical passport that is recognised internationally and may be required for entry to certain countries where there are increased health risks for travellers.

NmVac4-A/C/Y/W-135 is the commercial name of the polysaccharide vaccine against the bacterium that causes meningococcal meningitis. The product, by JN-International Medical Corporation, is designed and formulated to be used in developing countries for protecting populations during meningitis disease epidemics.

Meningococcal vaccine refers to any of the vaccines used to prevent infection by Neisseria meningitidis. Different versions are effective against some or all of the following types of meningococcus: A, B, C, W-135, and Y. The vaccines are between 85 and 100% effective for at least two years. They result in a decrease in meningitis and sepsis among populations where they are widely used. They are given either by injection into a muscle or just under the skin.

COVID-19 Contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first known case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The disease has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccine Vaccine designed to provide acquired immunity against SARS-CoV-2

A COVID‑19 vaccine is a vaccine intended to provide acquired immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19). Prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic, an established body of knowledge existed about the structure and function of coronaviruses causing diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). This knowledge accelerated the development of various vaccine platforms during early 2020. The initial focus of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines was on preventing symptomatic, often severe illness. On 10 January 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence data was shared through GISAID, and by 19 March, the global pharmaceutical industry announced a major commitment to address COVID-19. The COVID‑19 vaccines are widely credited for their role in reducing the spread, severity, and death caused by COVID-19.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine RNA COVID-19 vaccine

The Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine, codenamed mRNA-1273 and sold under the brand name Spikevax, is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by American company Moderna, the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). It is authorized for use in people aged twelve years and older in some jurisdictions and for people eighteen years and older in other jurisdictions to provide protection against COVID-19 which is caused by infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is designed to be administered as two or three 0.5 mL doses given by intramuscular injection at an interval of at least 28 days apart.

Science diplomacy is the collaborative efforts by local and global entities to solve global issues using science and technology as a base. In science diplomacy, collaboration takes place to advance science but science can also be used to facilitate diplomatic relations. This allows even conflicting nations to come together through science to find solutions to global issues. Global organizations, researchers, public health officials, countries, government officials, and clinicians have previously worked together to create effective measures of infection control and subsequent treatment. They continue to do so through sharing of resources, research data, ideas, and by putting into effect laws and regulations that can further advance scientific research. Without the collaborative efforts of such entities, the world would not have the vaccines and treatments we now possess for diseases that were once considered deadly such as tuberculosis, tetanus, polio, influenza, etc. Historically, science diplomacy has proved successful in diseases such as SARS, Ebola, Zika and continues to be relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic today.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on other health issues Health consequences of outbreak beyond the COVID-19 disease itself

The COVID-19 pandemic has had many impacts on global health beyond those caused by the COVID-19 disease itself. It has led to a reduction in hospital visits for other reasons. There have been 38 per cent fewer hospital visits for heart attack symptoms in the United States and 40 per cent fewer in Spain. The head of cardiology at the University of Arizona said, "My worry is some of these people are dying at home because they're too scared to go to the hospital." There is also concern that people with strokes and appendicitis are not seeking timely treatment. Shortages of medical supplies have impacted people with various conditions.

Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine Vaccine against COVID-19

Sputnik V or Gam-COVID-Vac is an adenovirus viral vector vaccine for COVID-19 developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia. It is the world's first registered combination vector vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19, having been registered on 11 August 2020 by the Russian Ministry of Health.

Helen Petousis-Harris is a New Zealand vaccinologist and associate professor in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care at the University of Auckland. She has been involved in research related to vaccination in New Zealand since 1998, with her main areas of focus being vaccine safety and effectiveness. Petousis-Harris has had a variety of lead roles in New Zealand and international organisations that focus on vaccination and is a regular media spokesperson in this field, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccination requirements for international travel are the aspect of vaccination policy that concerns the movement of people across borders. Countries around the world require travellers departing to other countries, or arriving from other countries, to be vaccinated against certain infectious diseases in order to prevent epidemics. At border checks, these travellers are required to show proof of vaccination against specific diseases; the most widely used vaccination record is the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

Glossary of the COVID-19 pandemic Glossary article for the COVID-19 pandemic

The glossary of the COVID-19 pandemic is a list of definitions of terms relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has created and popularized many terms relating to disease and videoconferencing.

COVID-19 vaccination in Israel

Israel's COVID-19 vaccination programme, officially named "Give a Shoulder", began on 19 December 2020, and has been praised for its speed, having given twenty percent of the Israeli population the first dose of the vaccines' two dose regimen in the span of three weeks.

EpiVacCorona EpiVacCorona vaccine against COVID-19

EpiVacCorona is a peptide-based vaccine against COVID-19 developed by the VECTOR center of Virology. It consists of three chemically synthesized peptides that are conjugated to a large carrier protein. This protein is a fusion product of a viral nucleocapsid protein and a bacterial MBP protein. The third phase of a clinical trial, which should show whether the vaccine is able to protect people from COVID-19 or not, was launched in November 2020 with more than three thousand participants.

Trials to assess the effectiveness of an immunity passport scheme, also known as a COVID passport or COVID certification scheme, were confirmed by the UK government on 3 April 2021 as a way of helping to restart public events in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made following much discussion and speculation about the idea by politicians and in the British media. The government announced that trials of a scheme for England would begin on 16 April, starting with a comedy evening in Liverpool.

Various kinds of software have been developed and used for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. These include mobile apps for contact tracing and notifications about infection risks, digital passports verifying one's vaccination status, software for enabling – or improving the effectiveness of – lockdowns and social distancing in general, Web software for the creation of related information services, and software for the research and development for COVID-19 mitigation.

COVID-19 vaccine card Medical record for COVID-19 vaccination

A COVID-19 vaccine card is a record often given to those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine showing information such as the date(s) one has received the shot(s) and the brand of vaccine one has received, sometimes including the lot number. The card also contains information identifying the recipient and the location where the shot was given. Depending on the country, it could serve as an official document verifying one has received vaccination, which could be required by some institutions, such as a school or workplace, when boarding a cruise ship, or when crossing an international border, as proof that one has been vaccinated.

Vaccine passports during the COVID-19 pandemic Use of immunity passports for COVID-19 vaccination

A vaccine passport or proof of vaccination are immunity passports which have been employed as a credential in a number of countries and jurisdictions as part of efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic via vaccination. They are typically issued by a government or health authority, and have consisted of a scannable barcode, QR code or are accessible in paper form or as part of a mobile app. They may or may not use a COVID-19 vaccine card as a basis of authentication. As of 5 October 2021, more than 46 percent of the world population has been vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.


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