For many AgingOptions blog readers and radio listeners – especially those who dine out in restaurants in King County, which is the home of AgingOptions – the hassle of showing proof of COVID vaccine status is very real. For others of us who live outside King County but dine or attend events there, it can come as a surprise to be asked by restaurant staff to show proof that you’ve been “Pfizered” or “Modernaed” (or that you’ve recently tested virus-free).
But if you live in Washington State, there’s a simple way to make certain your vaccine status is up to date, and also an easy method of downloading visual proof to your smart phone. It could save embarrassment and delay next time you enjoy a restaurant meal in King County or anywhere that requires proof of vaccine status.
We found this simple information described in this Seattle Times article, reprinted from the Spokane Spokesman-Review. It was written by reporter Arielle Dreher.
WA Verify Used by 1 Million Washingtonians
The cornerstone of the verification system is this website called WA Verify. It has been used by more than 1 million Washington residents, the article reports. “The state Department of Health teamed up with Microsoft and the state of California to roll out the tool for residents in fall 2021,” Dreher explains.
WA Verify has a very cool, easy to use feature: it provides a simple way to show your vaccination status to anyone who requires it. The site “enables smartphone users to receive a unique QR code they can scan at events or certain businesses to prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19.” (For those not in the know, the QR code is that weird-looking square pattern that smartphones can display for special scanners to read.)
QR Code Pulled from Immunization Database
“The QR code is pulled from the state’s immunization system,” the article explains. As long as your shots and boosters came through a state agency, your data should be in there and current. However, “those who got vaccinated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, other federal agencies or out of state will likely not be able to locate their COVID vaccine record.”
(We checked the site and found that the information for those with missing data wasn’t especially helpful. “If you received your vaccinations from a federal agency (Department of Defense, Indian Health Services, or Veterans Affairs), you will need to contact those agencies for assistance,” it states. If you visit the Frequently Asked Questions page, it explains how to correct missing or erroneous data, but the process takes a few weeks.)
QR Code is Automatically Generated
The WA Verify site is easy to use. Simply enter your name, date of birth, and an email or phone number that might be associated with your record. “If your information matches the state’s immunization records, you will receive a text or email with a link to your digital COVID-19 vaccine verification record,” says the article. “The record shows the date and make of each dose received, including booster shots.”
The system will then display a QR code along with text data to confirm your name and the dates of your COVID shots. You can download the QR code to your phone. Since both the code and the text are included, it’s compatible with SMART Health Card readers or with the ordinary human eyeball.
(Here’s a tip for iPhone users: once you download the QR code, it can be retrieved by tapping Files on your home screen.)
It’s important to note that you’ll need a new code if your vaccination status changes – for example, if you get a booster shot. Simply re-register at waverify.doh.wa.gov, just like a first-time user, and get an updated QR code.
Late-Breaking News: King County to Lift Vaccine Requirements
As we were literally about to publish this story on the AgingOptions blog, this Seattle Times story announced that the requirement in King County restaurants and bars to show proof of vaccination status is being lifted on March 1st.
“Restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms in King County will no longer be required to check the vaccination status of their patrons beginning March 1,” the article reported. “From March 1, businesses will be free to impose their own vaccination requirements if they choose, but the countywide requirement will disappear.” The announcement was made February 16th.
So, the requirement to proven you’re vaccinated and boosted may be a bit less obvious. Still, some establishments may choose to keep the proof-requirement in place. Also, sadly, there may be more COVID variants yet to come! Using WA Verify still seems sensible to us.
COVID Cases Are On the Decline
The Spokesman-Review article quoted recent data to suggest some hopeful news. “COVID cases continue to decline across Washington,” it said, “and hospitalizations at the state level appear to have plateaued after declining.” More than 1,800 COVID patients were hospitalized statewide as recently as last week, a figure which has remained in the 1,700 to 1,900 range for several weeks.
Also, the article reported, about 80 percent of the state population 5 and older has received at least one dose of a vaccine, based on recent reports.
There have been almost 11,400 deaths due to COVID-19 in Washington State during the pandemic, with over 1.4 million confirmed cases over the past two years. Roughly 22 percent of statewide deaths – and 25 percent of verified cases – have been in King County.
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(originally reported at www.seattletimes.com)