COVID Vaccination: Incentives/Mandates/Certificates/Passports

Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research


COVID Vaccination: Incentives/Mandates/Certificates/Passports

WHO – Call for public comments: Interim guidance for developing a Smart Vaccination Certificate – Release Candidate 1
19 March 2021 Call for consultation
Interim Guidance pdf:

In response to the Statement on the sixth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and the need for WHO to support Member States to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, at scale, with digital tools, WHO has developed this guidance and technical specifications document, in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary group of experts. The Guidance aims to support WHO Member States in adopting interoperability standards for digital documentation of vaccination status (i.e. Smart Vaccination Certificates). 

It is critical to reiterate that the Smart Vaccination Certificate (SVC) is not intended to serve as an “immunity passport”. Furthermore, as per the “Interim position paper: considerations regarding proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travellers”, currently, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended as a condition of departure or entry for international travel. Countries are advised to take a risk-based approach to international travel in the context of COVID-19. Additionally, along with the digital implementation of SVCs, it is recommended that the COVID-19 vaccination status should still be recorded through the paper-based International Certificate for Vaccination, and Prophylaxis based on the model presented in Annex 6 of the IHR.

Due to the constantly evolving context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this document is intended to have three releases prior to the release of the final version, with public feedback and input considered for all three releases. This document is the first of three releases. Release candidate 1 (this document) contains the key business requirements for an SVC for national adoption that includes the prioritized scenarios of use, use cases, key workflows, a core data set with preferred terminology code sets, and an initial FHIR Implementation Guide for the content in Release Candidate 1. This document will also begin to outline the international trust framework and a high-level overview of a governance mechanism.

As this is Release Candidate 1, which is an initial release of the technical specification for the Smart Vaccination Certificate, no digital solutions have met this specification yet.

As part of the public consultation, you can provide constructive feedback on this document by 12 April 2021. Please use the link to the feedback form to provide your comments. For any additional inquiries, please contact



Africa’s Telecom and Technology Industry Leads the Charge against COVID-19 by Backing AU Covid-Tech & Vaccine Passport System
26 March 2021
Africa CDC obtains highly positive feedback from a  consultative meeting with mobile and technology players on the Africa CDC Trusted Travel Policy.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 26 March 2021 – More than a year into the global pandemic, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has shown that health is central to everything we do on the planet. The profound impact of the virus and of the measures which have been necessary to contain it have worsened economic inequalities and social insecurities, and deepened challenges in our already under-pressure health systems on the continent…

The Africa Against COVID-19: Saving Lives, Economies and Livelihoods campaign is part of the African Union Commission’s answer to the challenge of fighting and containing the disease, while at the same time protecting African economies and livelihoods…

A key element of the campaign is the “Trusted Travel Platform”, which automates cross-border verification of health certificates (whether for testing or vaccines). This platform, which went live on 2 October 2020, is an excellent example of the dual goal of preserving lives and livelihoods: By preventing the use of fake certificates, it helps manage the spread of the disease. By facilitating cross-boarder travel, it helps restore travel, tourism and trade – major pillars of our African economies.

The Trusted Travel Platform is also an excellent example of the potential of strategic collaborations between the Africa CDC and private sector technology partners. It was developed in collaboration with the AfroChampions-convened Panabios Consortium and Econet, while an algorithm co-sponsored by the United Nations development Programme (UNDP) and Koldchain has dramatically boosted the ability to screen and onboard international laboratories and transport operators to the scheme.

Indeed, because of the combined efforts of these pan-African stakeholders, two million Africans have already benefitted from Trusted Travel; lab registries in 35 countries in Africa have been digitised; and 10 airlines are currently integrating. More intriguingly, laboratories and travel operators in 17 countries in Europe and North America have enrolled through the Global Haven window for access to the Trusted Travel network.

On 26 March 2021, the Africa CDC convened key leaders to further explore how technology and innovation can and will shape the post-COVID-19 new public health order in Africa. Sixty of Africa’s leading tech and telecom executives and experts, many allied with key partners in the public and private sector, civil society and academia, explored further partnerships and collaboration across the African technology landscape to scale promising Pan-African innovation platforms like Trusted Travel. They also deliberated on how specific interventions such as the use of digital technology to boost vaccine equity and accountability in Africa and quell hesitancy can provide general blueprints for health sector transformation…

More information on Trusted Travel is available at:



Joint Statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew
By International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and World Health Organization (WHO)
25 March 2021 Statement
…More than 80% of global trade by volume is moved by maritime transport. The global economy depends on the world’s 2 million seafarers who operate the global fleet of merchant ships. Seafarers have been severely impacted by the travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic. As of January 2021, it is estimated that some 400,000 seafarers are stranded on board commercial vessels, long past the expiry of their contracts and unable to be repatriated. A similar number of seafarers urgently need to join ships to replace them…

With this statement, our organizations also call on governments to prioritize seafarers and aircrew in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes, together with other essential workers, in accordance with the advice from the WHO SAGE Roadmap for prioritizing the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the context of limited supply published in November 20202. Seafarers and aircrew need to be protected through vaccination as soon as possible, to facilitate their safe movement across borders. We also call on governments to identify and prepare for the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers and aircrew, particularly for seafarers spending long periods of time away from their home country.


Our organizations fully support the timely development of an international harmonized framework for vaccination certificates, to facilitate international travel for seafarers and aircrew.

In December 2020, WHO established a Smart Vaccination Certificate working group to ensure that digitalized versions of vaccine certificates are interoperable3, and the UN Crisis Management Team for COVID-19, under the leadership of WHO, recognized that all countries should consider seafarers and aircrew, who are required to travel across borders during the pandemic, for essential allocation of vaccines.

We invite governments and other stakeholders to bring the contents of this joint statement to the attention of the competent authorities and all parties concerned.