Illinois on Wednesday launched a new portal called "Vax Verify" that allows residents to check their COVID-19 vaccination record.
Vax Verify can be found on this website and will enable residents ages 18 and older to verify and download their immunization information, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced.
“As more businesses, events, organizations, and others require proof of vaccination, Illinois residents will be able to confirm using Vax Verify that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “With the current surge in cases, more people are making the decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine and this new tool will aid residents in confirming their vaccination where needed.”
IDPH highlighted that anyone with tickets for the grandstand track area for concerts at the Illinois State Fair will be required to provide a print or digital copy of their vaccination record or a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours, noting that the Vax Verify portal will enable residents to obtain documentation of their COVID vaccination for events or businesses that require it.
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In order to access their vaccination records via the portal, Illinois residents have to go through a one-time verification process through Experian.
As part of this process, IDPH said anyone who has placed a freeze on their credit will need to unfreeze it with Experian and wait 24 hours before completing the process. Those who previously had their credit frozen can re-freeze it afterwards by contacting Experian, IDPH said.
After registering with the site, IDPH said individuals can see their own record in the Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange, otherwise known as I-CARE.
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Individuals can only access their own confidential vaccination history and IDPH recommended that parents talk to their children's provider to confirm vaccination status.
The new portal comes after places like New York City announced earlier this month that it would require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for a number of indoor activities.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has not announced any plans for a COVID vaccine requirement statewide, but Chicago's top doctor said last week that the city could have a type of vaccine passport in the future - just not yet.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that while the city is "interested" in the idea, there are no current plans to make a similar requirement.
"I think at this point I'm certainly... we're interested in this," Arwady said. "We'll be watching to see how this plays out, but we don't have a current plan to do something like that at the city level."
Arwady noted Chicago and Illinois are still working on technology to implement vaccine proof on such a grand scale, though she noted making such a requirement is "a really big decision."
"I'll tell you in New York City, there's a couple things that are different. One is I think they have embraced this vaccine passport idea a little bit more than has been embraced here in the Midwest and across Illinois," Arwady said. "We've been working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make it easier for people to be able to access their own vaccination records, thinking about some behind-the-scenes work to be able to have a more standard way for people to be able to show proof of vaccination, for example, because I do think where you're thinking about doing some of this potentially at a larger level, you want to make sure that it can be operationalized in a way that makes sense."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed Arwady's comments in a one-on-one interview with Telemundo Tuesday, saying that while she's watching to see how New York's move plays out, "we're not ready."
"Anything that we do, we've got to do it in partnership with those businesses that are going to be directly affected. As you know, our restaurants, bars and hotels have been dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 mandated shutdowns," she said. "We're not going to take any steps in any direction without being in conversation in collaboration with them. It's interesting that New York has decided to take this step, we'll certainly look at it, but we're not ready to take that kind of... that's a pretty drastic step."
Both Lightfoot and Arwady thanked the several restaurants around the city that are already making vaccines a requirement and said they hope to have better technology for businesses interested in making similar moves soon.