SAN FRANCISCO — Coming soon to your smartphone: Digital codes that afford you access to airplanes, concert venues and even restaurants.

Vaccine passports are new apps that will carry pieces of your health information — most critically your coronavirus vaccination status. They may soon be required to travel internationally or even to enter some buildings.

But a growing list of tech companies, governments and open-source software groups are all attempting to tackle the problem, prompting some concerns about a lack of a standard approach that would make it possible to carry around just one pass. Plus, apps would need to pull and verify your vaccination records in an easy, safe and controlled format. And wide adoption would require the majority of countries, airlines and businesses to agree on one (or two or three) accepted standards.

It’s a technical headache that is becoming only more urgent as more people get vaccinated and businesses and borders begin to reopen.

Several different organizations developing apps and tapping into government databases acknowledge how critical a common standard is. Still, many different groups are all racing to create that standard, with some overlap.

“When you think about standards, we should have one, but we have at least five organizations coming up with standards,” said Eric Piscini, the team lead for IBM’s digital health pass. “We are working with all five and will be compatible with all five.”

The Biden administration is working with companies to develop a standard way of handling the passports — or certificates, credentials or health passes, as the industry would prefer they be called — The Washington Post reported this week.

What to know

  • How do vaccine passport apps actually work?
  • How is my data secured?
  • Will I need to have different passes to get into different places?
  • What if I don’t want to use an app?
  • How widespread will these be?