The Final Push
Security’s role in vaccine management
- By Willem Ryan
- Jul 29, 2021
It is the last push; the final journey as businesses begin to get
back to work, and the office, after a lengthy pause caused
by the worldwide pandemic. Companies across the globe are
orchestrating strategic return-to-work plans with the goal of
keeping employees, visitors and contractors safe upon reentry.
Physical Security technologies are stepping into the role of
vaccine management, providing security and access that’s healthy,
frictionless and adds to a positive user experience and their overall
well-being at the workplace.
Identity and access, converged across Human Resources (HR),
Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT)
systems, stands at the center of effective Physical Security in a
post-pandemic world. COVID-19 has already transformed access
governance – automating across a broader, cross-departmental
reach that includes security and now encompasses safety, health
The new focus is on vaccination management and physical security
again plays a critical role in the compliance monitoring of
the newly inoculated in the workplace. As of April 2021, some
29% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, with 42% of
the population receiving one dose and 231 million total vaccines
administered. Which brings us to another challenge. According
to a report in The New York Times, millions of Americans are
skipping their second vaccine done and their numbers are growing.
Reasons vary, including the fear of side effects or a pretense
that they believe they are sufficiently protected with a single dose.
THE NEW FACE OF IDENTITY
So how does all this translate to securing identities? Businesses
need to know who has been fully vaccinated and other health statuses
before allowing access into the general workforce population.
Vaccination records will become part of the digital identity
and user profile, redefining physical access to spaces through automated
controls according to COVID-19 policies.
Managing the workforce, how they gain access and controlling
tenant populations will continue to be transformed in this
new era of work. Some spaces will remain accessible, unused corporate
work spaces may be outsourced to leased tenants and employers
may implement a hybrid approach, with onsite and work
from home policies.
Only a data-driven and automated method, converged within
the organization and its operations, will provide the highest level
of insights, safeguards and most seamless approach to this complex
and ever-changing population mix.
SECURITY CONVERGENCE CARVES A PATHWAY
Security convergence has emerged as a superior enabling technology
approach during the pandemic, aided by the acceleration and
proliferation of digital systems. Physical Identity Access Management
(PIAM) can address all identities across the entire enterprise
and is the cornerstone of a secure and compliant experience
for workforce, visitors and contractors.
A converged solution that integrates with HR systems, IT, OT
and Physical Access Control Systems (PACS), delivers the ability
to assign specific roles-based logical and physical access –
based on vaccination status or other health and compliance requirements.
Companies have been headed down the pathway of Security
Convergence and many accelerated its implementation with the realization
that digital workflows can effectively automate critical processes,
increase accountability and dramatically improve efficiency.
The logistics of organization and orchestrating the vaccination
and inoculation of the public, including the workforce, is monumental
and without digital workflows, can be error prone, costly
and time burdened.
According to ServiceNow, “successful vaccine management
from distribution to administration and monitoring are essential
for health and safety. Digital workflows can help solve one of
the biggest logistical challenges ever—vaccine management and administration.”
Digital Transformation and Security Convergence have proved
as the best way to move forward and support enterprise returnto-
work plans. A perfect example is the recent California law
AB-685, which requires public and private employers to provide
24-hour written notice of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.
Managing contact tracing data is time-consuming, costly and
prone to error, which businesses cannot afford as they climb back
into profitability. Convergence connects IT, HR and Physical Security,
an absolute necessity as businesses work to deliver accurate
and fast data-driven risk response so companies can return
to facilities with confidence.
WORKFORCE IMMUNIZATION DATA
As vaccine distribution for COVID-19 ramps up with millions of
inoculations planned, organizations need to gain accurate, realtime
insights into the immunization status of their workforce.
Identity governance software centralizes and correlates immunization
data with workforce identities and access, providing
organizations insights and controls needed to meet stringent policies
and compliance related to workplace health and safety.
Identity Access Management–based software takes on the
heavy lifting of proactive policy enforcement, automating and
streamlining the logistics based on immunization results. It enables
employees and contingent workers to upload vaccination
documents through the secure self-service web portal or mobile
app, while the platform’s integration framework also provides the
ability to securely connect to third party healthcare and vaccination
applications for documentation upload.
Businesses will gain a full view of vaccination among the
workforce population with analytics and dashboards, and automate
physical security controls to deliver frictionless access to the
workplace according to COVID-19 vaccination re-entry policies.
In the most common scenario, an employee, contractor or visitor
will participate in offsite, remote self-attestation procedures via
the smartphone and mobile app or another connected device. Automated
email and text notification with self-service link capabilities
are generated to remote workforce. Users provide information
and documentation on their current vaccination or other health
and well-being status, such as a completed follow up appointment
with medical staff following a positive COVID-19 test, including
health clearance documentation necessary to enter the premises.
All information is centralized on the user profile for easy access,
correlating to their permissions for access around the facility.
Here is what’s possible with converged identity access as companies
get back to business:
- Robust analytics and tracking across the entire enterprise – at a
global, regional and individual facility level.
- Employee self-attestation and vaccination record upload
through mobile app and online portal, HR/Admin review with
lobby screening and badge access management.
- Health and safety self-service for pre-screening, temperature
check of workforce during site entry with policy enforcements
and access governance.
- Vaccination dashboards provide critical analytics and insights
of vaccination status across the entire organization. Health and
Safety analytics track cases of exposed individuals and identify
exposed employees by criticality as well as exposed areas
for lockdown or sanitization. Software integrations provide an
intuitive dashboard with data on potentially infected employees
and real-time information on person-to-person proximity
- Contact tracing, social distancing and quarantine dashboards,
and location heat maps with COVID-19 positive and exposed
cases and other actionable health and safety analytics for safer
surroundings and increased situational intelligence. Proximity
records for mobile devices in the workplace find close contacts
and potentially contain outbreaks before they escalate.
- The ability to control spaces remotely creates a safe, hygienic
workplace that instills confidence in employees, tenants, and visitors
by limiting access to specific areas when too many people
are in one space.
OTHER CRITICAL PIECES
There are other facets as we navigate this new normal of doing
business, including the effect the process has on security for vertical
markets and users involved in the manufacturing, transportation
and distribution of the vaccine.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
created documentation in the COVID-19 Physical Security library
that “encourages organizations involved in the distribution
process to assess potential security vulnerabilities and implement
corresponding risk mitigation solutions to reduce the probability
The agency cites potential disruptions by anti-vaccination
protesters, insiders, criminals or organized crime or terrorists. An
infographic, COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Physical Security
Measures, illustrates four stages of vaccination distribution activity
and possible physical threats at these stages and potential
CISA also created the COVID-19 Vaccine Points of Distribution
Physical Security Action Guide. This document provides a
list of potential resources available to the public to help satellite
organizers and operators enhance their Physical Security to protect
workers and individuals.
FOR A SAFER FUTURE OF WORK
Technology has been put to the test. The Digital Transformation
and Security Convergence have stepped up to COVID-19,
with greater identity intelligence for the user and the ability to
effectively converge and aggregate platforms, delivering proactive
threat detection and prevention – including in the areas of pandemics
and health and safety concerns.
Vaccination management as part of Health and
Safety access governance and intelligence supports
company return-to-work playbooks, preparing the
enterprise for a final, successful push against COVID-
19 and the protection of workers.
This article originally appeared in the July / August 2021 issue of Security Today.