October 5, 2021
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces Excelsior Pass First in the Nation to Validate Passes Issued from U.S. States Based on Federal and State COVID-19 Guidance

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Governor Hochul Announces Excelsior Pass First in the Nation to Validate Passes Issued from U.S. States Based on Federal and State COVID-19 Guidance
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Updated Scanner App Available to Businesses Nationwide for Free, Safe, Secure Interstate Acceptance

More Than 5.6 Million Excelsior Passes and Excelsior Passes Plus Retrieved Since Launch; New York Residents Vaccinated in New Jersey or Vermont Now Eligible to Retrieve Their Passes

Over 145,000 Downloads of the Excelsior Pass Scanner App to Date Representing Integration Across New York Businesses; New Marketing Assets for Businesses Available Here

Learn More About Excelsior Pass and Download Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced New York State's Excelsior Pass Scanner app—the free companion app for businesses—has been updated to enable the validation of SMART Health Cards from trusted issuers outside of New York State based on federal and state COVID-19 guidance. A first-in-the-nation solution, led by the State and designed in collaboration with the Vaccine Credential Initiative (VCI)—a coalition of more than 800 public and private organizations including The Mayo Clinic, Boston Children's Hospital, Microsoft, MITRE, and The Commons Project Foundation—the app's new validation system supports the standards and acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination credentials between issuers nationwide, helping more people safely return to work, school, entertainment, and travel. As part of the State's commitment to equity and access, the app can be downloaded for free by any business or venue in the United States.

To date, more than 5.6 million Excelsior Passes, including over 800,000 Excelsior Passes Plus, have been issued since New York State launched the first-in-the-nation, voluntary platform. The Excelsior Pass platform currently offers proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or negative test results through three different Excelsior Pass options, as well as a digital copy of an individual's COVID-19 vaccination record and/or negative test results through three different Excelsior Pass Plus options. New York residents who were vaccinated in New Jersey or Vermont can now retrieve their proof of vaccination or digital vaccination record through Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Pass Plus, respectively.

"New York was hit hard by COVID-19, and we have led bold efforts to pursue innovative solutions to reinvigorate economies," Governor Hochul said. "Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Pass Plus—the nation's first vaccine and negative test pass system—have been critical tools in the safe reopening of our economy and the protection of New York's public health. We're expanding this solution even further with a set of standards that can be used and validated by all businesses for free, nationwide, based on shared policies and commitments New Yorkers trust."

The Scanner app's expanded validation capabilities further affirm the State's commitment to provide New York businesses with every tool to reopen and stay open while creating a model for national collaboration. Following today's update, the Scanner app will be able to validate Passes from U.S. States that issue SMART Health Cards, including California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Virginia, and soon, Washington State—enabling businesses to use the app for seamless and contactless entry with more patrons from outside of New York.

"We are excited about the State of New York's collaboration and leadership in developing an easy-to-use tool for validating proof of vaccination as we enter into Fall and anticipate an increase in indoor activity," said Dr. Brian Anderson, chief digital health physician for MITRE and co-lead of VCI. "The coordination between states like New York, California and Washington illustrates the power of the freely available open-source SMART Health Cards Framework and standards to support innovation, inclusion, and interoperability throughout the United States and abroad."

"New York State's adoption of SMART Health Cards and update to their Scanner app is a great example of what's possible when public, private, and community organizations work together to respond to crisis and solve problems," said Lila Tretikov, Corporate Vice President & Deputy CTO, Microsoft. "The need to respond urgently to COVID-19 is what inspired VCI members to connect across boundaries and borders in a true expression of open collaboration, developing a standard that puts people first. I am heartened to see individuals, businesses, and innovators in public service like New York State deploying the use of SMART Health Cards in a way that continues to support this work."

"When VCI adopted SMART Health Cards, we did so with the goal of helping the world reopen safely by giving individuals access to a trustworthy copy of their vaccination record to use wherever and whenever they might need it," said JP Pollak, The Commons Project Co-Founder and Cornell University Senior Researcher. "Thanks to trusted issuers nationwide, including partnership and leadership from New York State and others who are championing the technology and demonstrating the significance of its use, more than 150 million U.S. residents have access to a SMART Health Card. The latest update to the Excelsior Pass Scanner app gives New Yorkers like me—as well as millions of others in the U.S.— the power of a simple, streamlined mechanism for using their SMART Health Cards in ways that matter."  

Through the Scanner app's rule engine, the trusted issuers framework ensures that Passes accepted meet New York State's standards of issuance. Based on state and federal public health guidance, this includes vaccine type, the definition of fully vaccinated, a commitment to accessibility through print and digital, and the protection of individuals' health data. The app will also be able to validate SMART Health Cards by other trusted VCI issuers for free. 

"Since March, a collaborative team across New York State has worked day and night to develop the nation's first COVID-19 vaccination and negative test Pass solution," said Rajiv Rao, Chief Technology Officer and Deputy Chief Information Officer of New York State. "Today's update to the NYS Excelsior Pass Scanner app expands its capabilities and reach, both for individuals as well as organizations, businesses, and venues nationwide. As the first validation system and rules engine based on federal and State COVID-19 guidance, we are creating new, free, accessible digital infrastructure that brings us all closer together - and closer to the people and things we have missed for too long."

"We applaud the State of New York for committing to an open framework for digitally verifying vaccination records," said Rick Klau, Chief Technology Innovation Officer of California Department of Technology. "This release is an important step forward for a national, interoperable system that makes the verification of vaccination information easier for residents and businesses alike."

"This technology will help to ensure that vaccine verification can happen more easily and efficiently," said Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State. "I am pleased the state of Washington is able to partner with other states to bring this technology and SMART Health Card solutions to more people. This tool will help us to stop the spread of COVID and save more lives."

To date, more than 145,000 downloads of the Excelsior Pass Scanner app have been made—representing the significance of this tool in aiding New York businesses to safely and smartly reopen. New York venues such as New York Fashion Week, the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium, and Tilles Center at Long Island University have announced the leveraging of Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Pass Plus for their recent and upcoming events. New York businesses big and small across hard-hit sectors have and continue to utilize Excelsior Pass statewide.

Any New York business, venue, or organization can immediately begin accepting Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus by downloading the free, verifiable NYS Excelsior Pass Scanner app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and completing a short registration form. More information on Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Pass Plus for businesses is available here. New marketing assets for businesses are available here. The purpose of the app is to solely validate Passes from trusted issuers for proof of vaccination and/or negative COVID-19 test results for business entry against the Smart Health Cards Framework.

Interested New Yorkers can visit epass.ny.gov to retrieve their free Pass today and learn more here. New Yorkers should know that an Excelsior Vaccination Pass Plus is a secure, digital copy of an individual's vaccination record and as such, it does not have an expiration date. Excelsior Vaccination Passes are valid for 365 days from the final dose of an individual's initial vaccine series. Those who received their Excelsior Vaccination Pass before this update was made in May can retrieve a new Pass at epass.ny.gov at any time. 

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640

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