New Jersey grants digital access to COVID vaccine records

Alejandro Garcia, 16, receives his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Alejandro Garcia, 16, receives his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J., Monday, April 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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New Jersey officials are reporting an additional 292 COVID-19 cases, raising the state’s overall total to 1,026,286.

The statewide rate of transmission is currently 0.95 and the positivity ratio is 1.7%.

Four people have died from the virus in the last 24 hours, raising the death toll to 23,800. Officials are looking into 2,709 probable deaths from COVID.

As of 10 p.m. Sunday, 312 people are hospitalized in all but three of the state’s 71 hospitals; 58 patients are in intensive care while 26 are on ventilators.

State launches app to access digital vaccination record

The state, through the Immunization Information System (NJIIS,) has partnered with New York-based Docket Health to give residents digital access to their immunization records.

The app, Docket, is available in English and Spanish in the Apple and Google Play app stores. It will provide a digital record of COVID-19 vaccinations. Officials say that will expand to other vaccination records in the future.

Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Persichilli said the app will be helpful for those who either lost their immunization card or their card was damaged. She added the app will make it easier and quicker for those who request a copy of their record.

“The previous process … involves submitting a request form and supportive documentation to NJIIS and then staff mailing out the record which could take several days,” she said.

Utah is also using Docket. More states are slated to use the platform soon, according to the commissioner.

In announcing the app, Gov. Phil Murphy made it “absolutely” clear, “this is not a passport” referring to vaccine passports like New York’s “Excelsior Pass.”

“Docket is solely intended to give residents easy access to their COVID vaccination record,” he said, “especially if their vaccination card has been damaged or lost.”

When asked if it was inevitable that private businesses and third parties will use the app as a vaccination passport, the governor used the opportunity to reiterate his current stance on implementing passports in general.

“I’m not ‘hell no,’ but we continue to need to make more progress on the equity front,” he said.

Murphy has long stated that he has been open to the concept of vaccine passports; however, he has been resistant to them due to low vaccination numbers among residents of color when compared to their white counterparts. Out of the more than 4.9 million people fully vaccinated within the state, 49% are white, 15% are Latino, 11% are Asian and 7% are Black.

Murphy continued to say the timing is not right to implement a vaccine passport due to the low vaccination numbers among communities of color. He adds while progress is being made to reach more of those communities, more needs to be done.

“We’ve come a long way,” the governor said, “But, in particular in Black and brown communities, we’re not yet where we need to be.”

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