If a vaccine passport is defined as proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, and the “intent of Docket (the new app from the New Jersey Health Department) is to allow you to digitally access your Covid-19 immunization records to use at your discretion,” as stated on NJ.Gov, then we can assume Docket, proof of vaccination, is a vaccine passport, right?

Wrong. At least according to NJ.Gov., which clearly states Docket is NOT a vaccine passport. Okay, I guess.

Exactly how well does this non-vaccine passport app work? It works well, that is, once the kinks have been worked out. Unfortunately, the person who has to iron out those kinks is the user. In this case, yours truly.

I downloaded the Docket app from the App store (it is also available on Google Play) with ease, but immediately encountered a problem. I created a password, as instructed, but Docket would not recognize my password. I was denied access, not exactly a promising start. There are, however, two other methods of signing in to Docket: via Google or Facebook. I was eventually able to get in, but it wasn’t smooth sailing going forward.

Once you have opened a Docket account, Docket’s next step is pretty simple: fill out a form that includes name, gender, birth date, type of vaccine received, vaccination dates and location. Once the form is complete, Docket searches for your immunization record, and you can instantly securely access that record going forward. That’s all there is to it!


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That’s all there is to it for some folks, but not for me. Docket failed to find my second vaccine and listed my record as “incomplete.” A status of “incomplete” renders Docket useless. I did a bit of investigating and discovered I had to fill out a “ticket” to notify the New Jersey Department of Health that there was an error in my record. After I filled out the ticket, I was assigned a case number and told I would receive further instructions within three days.

The response was prompt…and incorrect. The New Jersey Department of Health sent me a form to fill out that would allegedly correct the error in my record. The form, however, was for somebody seeking a paper copy of their vaccine record, not for someone looking to correct a Docket error. I emailed the New Jersey Department of Health representative and explained the issue. Again, the response was prompt…and incorrect. The representative sent me the exact same form. I was back at square one.

I left my Docket record alone for a week or so and asked around to see if anyone else was experiencing problems with the app. Several people were, but most, including my family members, experienced no problems whatsoever after successfully downloading the app. Perhaps, I thought, the problem was with the app rather than the New Jersey Department of Health, so I contacted Docket customer support.  The reply was swift. In a highly detailed email, Docket instructed me to fill out an attached form authorizing the New Jersey Department of Health to release my entire vaccination record to Docket, and then upload that form with proof of identification and dates of vaccination. I did exactly that, hit the submit button, and within fifteen minutes my vaccine record was correctly uploaded to my Docket app.

Mission accomplished!

Docket is a CDC-approved application currently used in New Jersey and Utah and planned for rollout in additional states. New York, where some restaurants and all Broadway theaters require proof of Covid vaccination or negative test results, similarly employs Excelsior Pass, marketed as something akin to a “mobile airline boarding pass.” New York, however, willingly identifies Excelsior Pass as a vaccine passport.

Let’s review. A vaccine passport is digital proof of vaccination. New York’s vaccine passport is Excelsior Pass. Simple enough. But it’s not quite so simple in New Jersey. If you reside in New Jersey, where we don’t have vaccine passports, you can download Docket, New Jersey’s app offering secure digital access to your vaccination record – you know, like a vaccine passport. While Docket provides digital access to vaccination records, it is not a vaccine passport because…well, New Jersey says it’s not. Maybe New Jersey is reluctant to identify its vaccine passport as such. Perhaps Governor Murphy doesn’t want to deal with potential protestors who might construe a vaccine passport as violation of privacy. Who knows?

Whatever the reason for the distinction, New York has Excelsior Pass, and New Jersey has Docket, the vaccine passport that isn’t a vaccine passport.


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Avatar of Anne Mikolay

Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...

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