Vaccine Records – Digital AND Paper

by | Mar 22, 2021 | ICT4D |

Vaccine records

There are many aspects of our lives (thankfully) that are not digital. Even aspects which could be digital. Some of us will have a form of digital health records. Others will still have most of their health records either in a paper folder at the doctor’s office or simply in the head of the doctor.

Many international travellers carry with them a yellow fever vaccination card. Sometimes its a card, other times it is a stamp in their vaccination booklet. It’s an entry requirement in various countries. And it is paper. Not digital. Not an app. Just an old school, glorious piece of paper. Often it’s yellow for easy finding.

With COVID there is much talk of digital vaccine passports and records. And while they are concerns about this approach, there are also positives. And all the talk of digital vaccine records quickly expands in scope and soon the discussions talk of a brave new (digital) world.

But there is a catch.

And it’s a pretty big catch.

The digital world is primarily for the privileged. It’s not for everyone. And here lies one of major ‘rubs’ of digital transformation. Not every country, community, person can do it. And certainly not everyone is ‘transforming’ at the same speed.

Therefore, digital transformation must always account for legacy systems and be able to be ‘interoperable’ with non-digital systems. And no, this doesn’t mean having a conversion programme to convert legacy users (i.e. paper users) to digital. No, this means the paper user should not need to convert but rather continue using paper. Paper vaccine records must continue to work and must not be penalised.

This is and will continue to be essential for vaccine records. It is an essential and fundamental design feature of systems going forward, not a nice to have. Digital transformation should not be about conquest, it should be about equality.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Markus Winkler


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