Astoria Palawan. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way people travel and will continue to do so, perhaps long after populations have achieved herd immunity against it. 

Countries have closed borders, and travel restrictions and requirements have made it more difficult to visit another area (even locally). But now that local government units (LGUs) are starting to ease lockdown restrictions in some areas, travel is again possible, albeit more tedious and time-consuming. 

“Traveling has become and will remain for the time being more complicated than before the pandemic. Travel requirements and protocols will be subject to change, and will lack consistency from one region to the next, or vary depending on the mode of travel and carrier you are traveling with,” said Andrew Candelet, country manager of International SOS Philippines, the world’s leading health, travel, and security solutions provider.

These variations in protocols should be expected as countries and LGUs scramble to respond to the prevalence of the virus on the ground. Travel bubbles and corridors will come and go, Candelet said, depending on how each area is doing.

On top of these, travelers must comply with about 13 other health and travel guidelines before departure and upon arrival at their destination. These include pre-travel documentation and vaccination, isolation, monitoring, and securing medical clearance. 

This is where vaccination passports such as the AOKPass come in. 

Aside from lessening the tediousness of border crossings or domestic travel, having vaccination passes on hand could simplify the entire process.  

AOKPass is a secure, private, and portable digital compliance status pass. Launched in March 2020, the health passport enables individuals to collate and store their health and travel declarations digitally on their phones. 

Compared to paper-based certifications like RT-PCR test results, travel documents, and vaccination records, the AOKpass mobile app is secure, convenient, and not easily tampered with. It also lessens the handling of physical documents which could increase the risk of exposure. 

“Digital certifications like the AOKpass eliminate the inefficiencies and gaps rendered by paper-based certifications such as high cost, inconvenience, vulnerability to fraud, human error, and loss. With the AOKpass, users are assured that their data is secure and private, accessible through both digital and hard copies, and interoperable which can be used for return to travel, work, and play requirements,” said Darren Toh, CEO of AOKpass.

This next-generation vaccination passport uses blockchain and cryptographic protection and is GDPR-compliant to safeguard users’ privacy. It is also easy to navigate and intuitive for seamless and hassle-free contactless verifications. The app’s capability is further enhanced by the ICC’s vast network of organizations and International SOS’ global network of clinics and health providers.  

Although the pandemic is far from over, it is becoming more apparent that health certifications and vaccination passports, could hasten the reopening of more locales, cities, countries, and even businesses here and abroad.

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