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Android phones will soon store your COVID vaccination card — here's how

Google Pay Covid 19 vaccination card
(Image credit: Google)

Getting vaccinated is important, but so is being able to prove your vaccination status for certain things. You can carry a vaccination card, or you could let Google Pay carry it around for you.

Google has just announced that the Google Pay app is now capable of saving (and displaying) COVID-19 vaccination cards. Though right now only it’s only available through a select number of health providers within the U.S.

Regular Google Pay owners might be aware that the app typically only works on a single device. So setting it up on your new phone means your old phone can’t be used to make payments. A sensible security measure if there ever was one.

That won’t be the case with your COVID vaccination card, however. As part of Google Pay’s new ‘Passes API’, which can be used to store non-payment cards and loyalty cards, your digital COVID vaccination card will be available on multiple devices if you wish it to be.

Of course, this only works if your vaccine card provider has made the vaccine cards available in digital form, and even then only if the new API is supported.

Judging from Google’s own example image, it looks as though the digital vaccination card will have all the basic information about you and the vaccines you received. That includes which vaccine provider administered the shots, what shots you had, when you got them, and which lots you actually received. 

There’s also a QR code, which will presumably allow all that information to be accessed by someone else, presumably a doctor or health insurance company, when necessary.

It’s worth mentioning that these cards are stored locally, and don’t touch the cloud. While this does have the added benefit of it not being shared with third parties, or used for targeted ads, it means the card will have to be added to additional devices manually. Assuming you want it to be accessible on more than one device.

Like payment cards, you also won’t be able to add your COVID vaccination card to Google Pay unless the device has a lock screen. Your phone also needs to be Play Protect certified, and has to run Android 5 or later.

Currently the option to add your digital vaccination card to Google Pay is limited to select providers within the United States. However, Google has promised it will start rolling out to other countries soon.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.