Quarantine has been used since ancient times as a method of limiting the spread of infectious diseases. Consequently, there has also been a need for documents attesting that a person has completed quarantine or is otherwise known not to be infectious. Since the 1700s, various Italian states issued fedi di sanità to exempt their bearers from quarantine.
In 1793 accurate records of outbreaks and yellow fever deaths in Philadelphia were recorded. The management of information around Malaria was also of great interest when we started building the Panama Canal.
In 1959, the WHO created the International Certificate of Vaccination (Carte Jaune) as a certificate of vaccination, particularly for yellow fever. However, these are certificates of vaccination, not immunity.
These cards are often frauded and still are the standard today.
By the mid-1980s databases could be cost-effectively built by public health officials and the world saw a rise in independently architected Immunization Information Systems. These systems were first used to catalog the childhood vaccinations given in a region and replace the paper-based tally sheets used by teams in the field.
By 2012 vaccinations were being administered en masse across Africa. It became apparent to many NGOs that they might be over-vaccinating specific groups and had no effective means of tracking the dosing. Independent vaccination systems and smart cards to record the dosing were subsequently developed and paid for by groups like the Elizabeth Glazer Foundation for pediatric AIDs.