WILMINGTON – North Carolina-based CastleBranch, a consumer reporting agency, has rolled out its own version of a “digital vaccine passport.”

The Wilmington-based firm, supported by anti-counterfeit technology, is now issuing Real Vaccination ID cards as proof for the COVID-19 vaccination.

“Tracking, storing and reviewing complex medical documents – including vaccine records – is what we do,” its CEO Brett Martin, who founded the the agency more than 20 years ago, told WRAL TechWire.

“If we can help people prove their COVID-19 vaccination status and help them return to everyday life — then that’s a summit worth climbing.”

(Check out details at this link.)

North Carolina is now administering COVID-19 vaccines by Phizer and Moderna to adults 65 and over, and to residents and staff of long-term care facilities as part of its phased vaccine distribution plan. It is still unclear when the general public will be eligible for vaccines.

Currently, many organizations, including the CDC, only issue paper forms to confirm an individual’s vaccination status.

In contrast, CastleBranch ID cards will be paired with a unique access code. With permission, that code can be used to electronically verify an individual’s identity and vaccination status, and view their validated vaccine documents.

The cards also include anti-counterfeit technology such as ultraviolet ink, microtext, holographic film and silver foil to prevent fraud and forgery.

“Third parties can accept the physical card as is, knowing the security features included in the card, as well as independent review by an accredited organization, was completed to obtain the card,” Martin said.

Perhaps most importantly, individuals retain complete control and ownership of their own personal data.

“Private data about the individual will never be shared or collected in a database and distributed to third parties by CastleBranch,” he said.

Digital health passes, the future?

While CastleBranch claims its cards are the first available to the market that are specific to COVID-19 vaccination status, a growing number of big tech firms are moving in the same direction.

IBM recently launched the “Digital Health Pass” to help organizations verify an individual’s vaccine status and any other relevant health credentials.

Meanwhile, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce are among several big-name firms, along with The Mayo Clinic, supporting a coalition effort to develop and deploy a digital health card that would include vaccination records.

Last Thursday, the group announced the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) in New York.

Its mission: to create an open-source, standard model for how hospitals, pharmacies and clinics administering Covid-19 vaccines make digital records of immunizations, which can be provided to patients who want them.

Martin, however, isn’t interested in joining the effort.

“Unfortunately, many big tech companies have a track record of collecting, selling or using an individual’s private data in ways that we simply do not agree with,” he said.

“Individuals should own their own data – control their personal self-sovereign digital identities – not advertisers or search engines. Real Vaccination ID is our initial offering to help people collect and control their own personal data to help them progress through life.”