Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Digital COVID-19 vaccination card now available

Published:Thursday | December 23, 2021 | 3:14 PM
Tufton: “It is not just about Jamaica, it’s global, it’s accepted and it will certainly place us in a tier among the world’s population that allows us a lot easier freedom of movement, certainly as it relates to the screening process of the COVID response.” -File photo.

David Salmon, Gleaner Writer

After missing Monday's deadline for the rollout of digital COVID-19 certificates, the Ministry of Health and Wellness today officially launched Jamaica's digital vaccination card.

With the introduction of the card, inoculated Jamaicans now have access to an internationally-accepted and convenient way of verifying their vaccination status.

Across the world, countries have stipulated that visitors must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a requirement for entry.

Over the next two months, the health ministry aims to phase out existing physical cards and replace them with digital ones.

The cards display a special Quick Response (QR) Code feature which allows information to be validated, reducing the possibility of fraud.

Tufton hailed the launch of the digital certificate as a positive development for Jamaicans.

“It is not just about Jamaica, it's global, it's accepted and it will certainly place us in a tier among the world's population that allows us a lot easier freedom of movement, certainly as it relates to the screening process of the COVID response,” said Tufton.

Hinting at the future ahead, Tufton expressed that based on trends observed, the card will play a major role in determining access to certain services.

“I believe that there is going to come a point when persons are going to ask for evidence of being vaccinated before you get access to whatever the situation you are seeking access to,” he said.

Tufton also sought to assuage concerns raised by members of the public whose cards have inaccurate information.

The health ministry's website allows members of the public to correct information on the card by uploading a picture of their national ID and vaccination card.

It will take 72 hours for the Ministry to validate the information inputted.

In the event of an emergency or for members of the public who may have difficulty accessing the cards online, persons can visit their nearest health centre to receive a physical copy of the vaccination certificate.

When asked about measures to protect the integrity of the electronic platform in light of reports of vaccination cards being purchased, Shawn Bolton, ICT lead consultant at the health ministry stated, “We ask for your identification card so that we can validate who you are is who you are. In terms of getting cards, this is a matter that is actually dealt with at the vaccination centre where we ask for your vaccination card.”

For the next update of the digital certificate, booster shots and third doses will also be added to the card.

This is scheduled to take place in the second or third week of January.

Meanwhile, Peter Melhado, a member of the National Vaccination Operationalization COVID-19 Task Force, underscored the importance of the electronic certificate as he explains that Jamaica now has a completely online COVID-19 management system from scheduling, to record management and now digital certification.

Malhado revealed that the introduction of the electronic certificate was made possible through a public-private partnership with UNICEF and the eGovernments Foundation based in India.

UNICEF's support included sourcing and funding the project management team and providing digital health experts to integrate the CommCare digital health platform.

And the eGovernments Foundation, which provides free open-source software to governments, partnered with the health ministry to allow the usage of its DIVOC platform.

This software is currently used by India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka and has processed 750 million records to date.

How to access digital vaccination card