Could PathCheck’s New Vaccine Card System Change Everything?

Saras Agrawal
5 min readJan 17, 2021

Right now, countries are struggling with an insanely difficult task of distributing their vaccines to citizens. With the current economy, health circumstances, and the time crunch they face, setting up a system in which vaccine distribution is effective, and manageable will be key for these countries to move forward. may just have done that.

The Current Challenges Vaccinators Face

Eligibility & Prioritization

As the limited amount of resources pile in for countries, they are faced with the decision of picking and choosing who they must vaccinate. This can be incredibly hard and relies on many factors, such as age, occupation, and medical discrepancies. While vaccinations try to figure out who they want to nominate for the first or second round of dosing, they also have to deal with the eligibility tracking system. If governments give specific groups of people more vaccination status than the rest of us, how do they affectively verify if the people coming for the vaccine are eligible?

Dose Tracking

While many countries are making stride in administering the first doses of the vaccine, they still must overcome another hurdle, which is figuring out and keeping track of the second doses that come with vaccines that come with Pfizer and Madorna. A second system would have to be set in order to document if someone had a secondary vaccine.


As people begin to flow into the vaccination clinics, it will be extremely hard for these workers to verify who has that vaccine, and if they are able to take it. As well, when people are vaccinated how will different venues, flights, and stores be able to verify if someone has the vaccine? If people aren’t confirmed somewhere, then the system won’t be sustainable, but if somehow it is, how can it be accessible to private systems for vaccine confirmations?

Monitoring Post Vaccine

Governments & health agencies still aren’t too sure about what and how the side effects of different vaccines will be, especially long term and in their health demographics. Without any system in which these longterm side effects can be documented, it is impossible to track how vaccines could possibly affect our health in the longer.

What Are Governments Doing Right Now?

Right now governments like the U.S. have centralized systems in place for keeping track of vaccines, like VAERS and VAMS, that record vaccine data.


Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) is a web-based application that can be used as a place in which vaccine clinics can upload their vaccine data to their data base, making a database.


Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national early warning system to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines. It is the equivalent of a vaccine side effect tracker, in which there is a large pool of vaccine data to verify a specific safety protocols in which the vaccine must meet.

The Problem With These Systems

Data privacy becomes more and more important as centralized databases begin to collect a lot of information, especially personal information. With these centralized systems people’s essential personal information is at risk at being stolen, or at least accessed by unknown and sources that should not be privy to that information. Especially with a centralized system like VAMS or VAERS, these huge databases of PI (personal information), that aren’t even encrypted is a huge data security risk. As well, these databases don’t solve the problems of dose tracking, prioritization and confirmation, especially at an accessible level.

PathCheck Safe Cards, a non-profit covid technology company, has been making leaps and bounds in their ideas to minimize confusion for health agencies and citizens. They’ve proposed an interesting system, that combines the use of QR codes, coupons, cards, and an app in order to create a decentralized system.

The Process

The distribution of the cards are simple enough, giving them to the prioritized people through either local governments, or workplaces. These cards contain some QRs that will help ease confirmation at the clinic. The next step for the user would be to take their coupon to the vaccine clinic the’ve been assigned. Because of the card, the clinic can easily confirm the validity of the need for a vaccine, the eligibility of the person, and things like their name, much more efficient no doubt than just a straight up need to check databases and IDs. In basis doctors would scan the QR to verify eligibility and carry out the vaccination After getting a vaccine, the user may get a new or another coupon that just confirms that they’ve been vaccinated, linked to a certificate. This could be used as a verification card for public places till the person gets their second dose. 21–28 days later the fist vaccination the person would comeback to the same clinic and proceed with similar steps with the first time they were vaccinated. After the second does, another vaccine card can be given, confirming that the user has been vaccinated. The beauty of these QRs is that they can be used by other organizations to identify if someone has been vaccinated, just by using the PathCheck Scanner App. As well, post-vaccination the scanner app and online portal could be used as a usercentric covid side effect tracker, and as well as a decentralized vaccination database. If governments want a centralized data base of information, maybe connected to systems like VAMS and VAERS, the app could upload information, but without straght up user ID, instead using encrypted codes to detach personal information from identities.

The Outcomes

In all, the PathCheck Card and Scanner Protocol could be revolutionary to the frontier of nationwide vaccination we are entering. There app has the potential to create a confidential, decentralized vaccine system, in which any centralized PI is extremely encrypted. As well, we could very well see these cards become the next vaccine ‘passports’ as if implemented could be the definition of vaccine verification. If PathCheck's systems can effectively follow their outcomes: confidentiality, verification, trust, administration, and health monitoring that their paper says they can, we could very well be looking at the next revolution in this pandemic, and maybe one of the driving forces in ending it once and for all.

As well all of these findings can be explored in our paper we recently published (me as a contributor). If you have questions you can email either me, or Ramesh Raskar. Check out PathCheck


About PathCheck
PathCheck Foundation, a generously funded 501(c)(3) non-profit spin-off from MIT, is developing decentralized pandemic response solutions using an open-source, open standard interoperable model. PathCheck is committed to sustained innovation in the middle of rapidly changing protocols, APIs, and epidemiological research in the pandemic response. Previously, PathCheck has delivered Google/Apple Exposure Notification based full-featured apps in 5 US states/territories and multiple nations. The PathCheck Foundation has now developed a new privacy-preserving approach to vaccine rollout and distribution, utilizing a vaccination app and physical cards. Follow updates at

Thank you for reading and make sure you stay safe!



Saras Agrawal

Currently working in the BCI startup space. Learning, Exploring, Creating, Teaching.