Walmart partners with Commons Project, Clear to launch digital COVID-19 vaccine records

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Currently, most patients who have been vaccinated against the virus only get a small piece of paper as proof. Walmart will provide access to digital health records, including vaccination information, to people who receive their COVID-19 vaccine shots at Walmart and Sam's Clubs. (Pinkypills/Getty Images)

Customers at Walmart and Sam's Clubs may soon be able to verify that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine by showing an app on their smartphones.

The retail giant announced Wednesday that it will provide access to digital health records, including vaccination information, to people who receive their shots at Walmart and Sam's Clubs.

Walmart is working with The Commons Project and Clear, an identity management platform, to make the digital health records available. The records will be available via the organizations' app called the Health Pass by Clear, as well as the CommonHealth and CommonPass apps.

Currently, most patients who have been vaccinated against the virus only get a small piece of paper as proof. Those papers are easy to lose and highly vulnerable to fraud and counterfeiting, industry stakeholders say. So public and private organizations have turned to the idea of developing digital health passports to help restart global travel.

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Walmart will use the open and interoperable SMART Health Cards standard being developed under the Vaccination Credential Initiative, which is co-chaired by the Commons Project Foundation. The Vaccination Credential Initiative is a cross-industry coalition that includes health IT heavy hitters Epic, Cerner and Change Healthcare along with tech giants and healthcare companies Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Cigna's Evernorth, Salesforce, and the Carin Alliance.

John Furner, CEO and president of Walmart U.S said the company is the first retailer to strategically partner with both The Commons Project Foundation and Clear to provide access to digital vaccine records.

"Our goal is to give customers vaccinated at Walmart free and secure digital access to their vaccine record and enable them to share that information with third parties seeking to confirm their vaccination status,” Furner said. 

Enabling fair and equitable access to health records, so people control their own health data, is a key element of empowering individuals, Walmart officials said.

The Clear and Commons Project platforms are free to users who choose to use them in order to verify their vaccine status to safely return to travel, work, school, sports events, entertainment and other venues while protecting their health data privacy, according to a Walmart press release.

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To enable this technology, Walmart and Sam’s Club have created systems that will allow vaccine status to be stored within the company’s proprietary apps and also interface with secure third-party apps. 

Health Pass by Clear is a free mobile experience within the Clear app, which securely connects a person's verified identity to multiple layers of COVID-19 related health information. More than 50 organizations are currently using Health Pass to create safer and more frictionless environments. With Walmart, Health Pass users will soon be able to link to and use their vaccination results in a frictionless way.

There are various efforts are currently underway to develop digital health credentials systems—both vaccination and test certificates. The CommonPass mobile app, created by the Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum is being used by United Airlines and other airlines on some international flights. The app enables consumers to demonstrate their current health status so they can safely return to travel, work, school and life, while protecting their data privacy, according to The Commons Project.

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The World Health Organization is also working on a digital vaccine certificate for international travel, and Health Pass by Clear is in use at Los Angeles International Airport.

“We applaud Walmart’s strong commitment to empowering customers with access to their health information using open standards,” said Paul Meyer, CEO of The Commons Project Foundation in a statement. “Not only can this help facilitate the safer return to normal life during COVID, empowering people with their health data can help improve the quality of the health services they receive in the future.”

Through a free digital account at Walmart and Sam’s Club, customers will have access to their prescription history and other health care information from Walmart.