South Dakotan living in China describes vaccines passport and QR code to allow travel

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 12:55 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - While American cities and states review the idea of a vaccine passport, we got the perspective on how others are utilizing vaccine passports abroad. We introduce you to a South Dakotan, living in China. He shows us how information on his phone provides him the freedom to move about his city.

Even though he’s lived in China for 16 years, Bryce Whitwam’s roots are still in South Dakota. His late father, architect Ward Whitwam is best known for the tepees welcoming visitors at interstate rest stops.

“Every time I come back to Sioux Falls, my father would always talk about how fast Sioux Falls is growing,” said Whitwam. “And indeed, it is growing, but not like that!”

Whitwam lives in Shanghai, which is grown from 17 million to over 26 million since moving there in 2005. When the pandemic hit, the entire city was closed for six weeks.

“After the end of March, everything opened up and people were allowed to go back to the offices,” said Whitwam. “Now it’s in stark contrast to the rest of the world.”

The city monitors spread by analyzing exposure and an individual’s location by tracking their cell phones. Each person can move freely with a green QR code on the phone.

“In a particular city or in a particular neighborhood that had a high infection rate, then your QR code would change to yellow,” said Whitwam.

If the code changes to red, a 14-day quarantine is required.

A vaccine passport is also on Bryce’s phone. Choosing the vaccine, QR code, or proof of vaccination is optional in Shanghai.

“The government provides through the use of the passport and the code as a real strong incentive for you to actually get vaccinated, assuming that you want to go into that, to that government office, or you want to go to the shopping mall,” said Whitwam. “You have to present it, and if you don’t have it, they won’t let you in.”

Vaccination rates are posted on store windows in portions of Shanghai. He sees the posters on the way to his marketing business, and on the way to teach at NYU Shanghai.

“So there’s a natural incentive for those other stores to reach that 100% target,” said Whitwam.

Whether you choose to vaccinate or to show your proof of vaccination, having the vaccines readily available is something Whitwam says should not be taken for granted.

“Americans don’t realize, South Dakotans don’t realize what they have, that is the envy of most of the world,” said Whitwam.

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