A life out of lockdowns will be in the palms of our hands within weeks.
A vaccine passport downloaded on people's phones should be available by early November, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson confirmed yesterday. The app is being managed by the Ministry of Health and developed with as yet unnamed private providers.
Work is also under way on what an alert level framework would look like once a vaccine passport is available. Announcements, including requirements for it, are expected in the next few weeks.
As with any new technology, we should expect teething issues. The $2.6m QR scanning required patching to make it more compatible with smartphones and to enable people to manually add where they'd been.
There may be attempts to subvert the passport system, such as counterfeits, even though the alternative is simply two tiny pricks to the arm.
There has been criticism. Vaccine passports have been called "unethical" due to uneven distribution of vaccines around the world. This may also be an issue with lower vaccination uptake among Māori and Pasifika. Some doctors also call it "unscientific" as a Covid-19 infection can provide greater immunity than the vaccine.
Internationally, the passports have been steadily rolled out in recent months with territories working through kinks to replace the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, a yellow booklet created by the World Health Organisation as proof of vaccination against hepatitis, yellow fever, cholera, rabies and several other viral diseases.
It has long been clear that international travel would resume post-Covid as a different enterprise. Vaccine passports are likely to be needed at many destinations, although not so far in the UK or US.
The French have the Covid-19 Pass Sanitaire and the Italians have introduced the Green Pass. The EU has a Covid-19 Vaccine Passport valid in member states and within the Schengen area countries.
We can expect specific routes to open up with passports, such as Singapore which allows fully vaccinated travellers to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass to enter from Germany and Brunei.
Yesterday, Robertson also noted the Government will not make vaccinations mandatory. "The idea that we would go to a compulsory vaccination goes, I think, well beyond where New Zealand has ever been in this regard."
It certainly shouldn't be needed, given the potential benefits a passport would offer - such as preferential access to some places, and not just overseas. This is the case in Israel, where a Covid-19 Green Pass is needed to enter hotels, restaurants, swimming pools, gyms, sporting and cultural events, galleries and museums.
Demanding vaccine proof in New Zealand venues such as restaurants is a looming debate and disputes are likely as we work through protocols.
The advent of the New Zealand passport will dovetail with a trial involving 150 fully vaccinated travellers who will bypass MIQ and isolate at home from the end of October.
Both the passport and the easing open of the MIQ regime all point to the "traditional Kiwi Christmas" Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week said she hoped would be the case for many this year.
These developments should be a further boost to those yet to book a vaccination.