141,000 people may be using CT’s digital vaccine cards — but data is incomplete

Photo of Peter Yankowski
A sign reminds customers entering a California restaurant to show proof of vaccination. While more than 141,000 people have accessed their online COVID records in Connecticut since the program launched last month, it’s unknown how many are using it as proof of vaccination.

A sign reminds customers entering a California restaurant to show proof of vaccination. While more than 141,000 people have accessed their online COVID records in Connecticut since the program launched last month, it’s unknown how many are using it as proof of vaccination.

Douglas Zimmerman / SFGate

More than 141,000 people have accessed their COVID vaccination records online since Connecticut launched a digital passport system last month.

However, the state’s data does not show how many users then uploaded the information to their smartphone to use as proof of vaccination as the program is intended, and the numbers may include duplicates.

But the data obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media Group provides the first look into how many people have accessed the digital records.

Unlike New York’s Excelsior Pass, Connecticut’s system relies on users logging in to the state’s immunization database to access a copy of their vaccination records. The file contains a QR code that users can then scan with a smartphone. A digital version of their vaccine card, called a SMART Health Card, is then created and can be saved on a smartphone or other device.

Since the option of uploading the card to a smartphone went live Dec. 13, users have accessed their records in the database 141,673 times as of Monday, according to Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe’s office.

The state numbers show an increase after the SMART Health Card system went live. In total, vaccination records have been downloaded 198,681 times since the state started allowing people to access the information online. That suggests people may have flooded the database to download a digital vaccine card once the option of putting it on their phone became available.

At most, the numbers reflect about 5.6 percent of the state’s more than 2.5 million fully vaccinated individuals may be using the digital vaccine cards.

But the numbers also contain duplicate downloads — meaning if someone downloaded their vaccine record more than once, it could be counted twice or more in the data. It’s also unclear from the state figures how many people used the system to actually upload it onto a smartphone. A spokesperson for Geballe’s office said the state is working to get more data from the vendor.

Asked about the program on Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont pointed to the apparent uptake as a success, and said he’d like to see more business owners ask for proof someone has been vaccinated.

“Hundreds of thousands of folks have downloaded the digital health card, making it a lot easier for them to demonstrate their vaccination status coming into a restaurant, or bar, like BAR down in New Haven requires it,” Lamont said.

Lamont was referring to a popular Elm City night club that announced in August it would require proof of vaccination or a negative test from patrons amid a renewed wave of infections brought on by the omicron variant. A handful of other New Haven venues soon followed suit.

“I’d like to see more restaurants and bars and stores send notice that we’d like to see your vaccination status, so I think we’re making progress on that, I’d like to see more,” Lamont said.