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New York digital vaccine pass: who can get it and how?

New York State and IBM are the first out of the gate in the US with a covid-19 vaccination and negative test result passport app. Here’s how to can get it.

New York digital vaccine pass: who can get it and how?
CARLO ALLEGRI REUTERS

On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the New York Excelsior Pass app to allow New Yorkers present digital proof of covid-19 vaccination or negative test results. The hope is that the technology will speed the reopening of New York businesses and venues.

The smartphone app will be free and optional to make it faster for New Yorkers to prove their current covid-19 status. Businesses and venues that opt in to use the app will be able to scan a QR code either stored on the app or printed by event-goers. The app is currently only valid in New York State.

How to get the New York Excelsior Pass app

Anyone who has been vaccinated in New York State can use the smartphone app to validate their covid-19 vaccination or receiving a negative PCR test or antigen test. The Excelsior Pass Wallet app is available for Android and Apple devices at the following links:

Businesses likewise can use the Excelsior Pass Scanner on either Android or Apple devices for free to validate that a patron has been fully vaccinated or tested negative for covid-19 before granting them entry. The Scanner app can be found at the following links:

How to get a Pass

In order to get one of the three Passes available you will need visit the NYS Excelsior Pass website and click the “Get Started” tab. After agreeing to the Terms of Use, you will need to provide basic personal information, including your first and last name, date of birth and zip code. You will also need to verify your identity with three "challenge questions" whose answers are unique to you. You'll need to enter this information every time you retrieve a Pass as the passes have varying lengths of validity.

Once you receive a pass from the website, you can print a paper pass, take a screen shot of your pass, or save your pass to the Excelsior Pass Wallet mobile app. Users will be required to show a second form of ID alongside the digital pass to verify the health data as their own.

The validity length of each Pass

There are three Pass types available to users, and all three can be stored in one Excelsior Pass Wallet. All three have varying lengths of validity due to the current transmission in New York and since covid-19 “is a highly infectious disease.” When a Pass expires, you will need to follow the requirements to retrieve a new Pass. The three Passes are as follows:

  • COVID-19 Vaccination Pass: is currently valid for 30 days after the Pass is retrieved. After the pass expires, you can retrieve a new Pass from the Excelsior Pass website at https://epass.ny.gov.
  • COVID-19 PCR Test Pass: is valid until midnight on the third day after your test. After your COVID-19 PCR Test Pass expires, a new test is required to retrieve a new Pass.
  • COVID-19 Antigen Test Pass: is valid for 6 hours after your test. After your COVID-19 Antigen Test Pass expires, a new test is required to retrieve a new Pass.

Security concerns with the app

Using the Excelsior Pass app is voluntary and alternate proof like a vaccination card or test results is valid. However, the app is designed to make gaining access to businesses and venues easier and faster. With security concerns in mind Governor Cuomo said in a statement “New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,”

The Excelsior Pass is based on IBM’s Digital Health Pass. The information used by the app is secured via blockchain and other encryption methods, and no private health data are stored in either the Pass or the Scanner. For more information check the Excelsior Pass frequently asked questions.