The logo of Microsoft is displayed outside the headquarters, in Paris, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

WASHINGTON — A coalition of big technology and health care companies — including Microsoft and Salesforce — are pushing for COVID vaccination passports.

They have formed a group called the Vaccine Credential Initiative. Other members include the Mayo Clinic, Oracle, Mitre and the Carin Alliance — whose board members including Apple.

“VCI’s vision is to empower individuals to obtain an encrypted digital copy of their immunization credentials to store in a digital wallet of their choice. Those without smartphones could receive paper printed with QR codes containing W3C verifiable credentials,” the group said in a statement of its founding on Jan. 14.

Vaccination cards are being given by the state of Maryland and health agencies to those getting COVID vaccines. The passports could be used to open up and conversely restrict travel, employment and other activities depending on whether one has gotten a COVID vaccine.

“The goal of the Vaccination Credential Initiative is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can use tools like CommonPass to safely return to travel, work, school, and life, while protecting their data privacy,” said Paul Meyer, CEO of The Commons Project Foundation”. The group is part of the VCI push.

COVID vaccines are not mandatory in the U.S. but other countries, airlines, events venues, universities and some employers might require them for travel, employment and entry.

The COVID vaccine passports would help accomplish that though they face plenty of concerns from those worried about civil liberties, privacy and Orwellian slippery slopes.

If they become popular or even required, COVID vaccine passports would ease travel and movements for those who get COVID vaccines — but what would happen to those who don’t get vaccinated remains a major question.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has also been a top international advocate for vaccines including those developed for the coronavirus.

The state of Maryland reports it has conducted 216,620 first doses of the COVID vaccine and 20,646 second doses. There have been 20,596 coronavirus given on the Eastern Shore, according to the state health agency.The National Guard has been mobilized to help with the state’s mass vaccination plans. National Guard personnel were in Talbot County to help with vaccinations on Friday, Jan. 15.

President Joe Biden could also mobilize the National Guard troops to set up national vaccination clinics. Biden will also impose a national face mask mandate when he takes office.

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