Digital vaccine certificates to launch in November
eHealthNews.nz editor Rebecca McBeth
Vaccine certificates, available via the My Covid Record website, are due to be launched in November and their use will be mandated for entry to large-scale events, the Prime Minister says.
At a press conference on October 5, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet has agreed to the use of vaccine certificates in New Zealand “as a way to help give more certainty and ensure greater safety of high risk events and venues”.
The certificate will be available digitally on a person’s device, or they can choose to print it off. The Prime Minister said the government is working through ways that people without digital devices could easily access a physical copy of their certificate.
Deputy director general data and digital Shayne Hunter provided a demonstration of the Beta version of My COVID Record at the press conference and said it would be rolled out in phases.
The first public release will provide access to your Covid vaccination record and within a few weeks of that, Covid-19 test results will be available.
“And then through November we will be making the vaccination certificates that the Prime Minister referred to, accessible in downloadable form,” he said.
In order to access your vaccination record information you will need a My Health Account or a Real Me account. Once logged in you will be able to see the name of the person vaccinated, the batch number and location and which vaccination was used.
Travel certificates will also be added at a later stage, that will allow people to prove their vaccination status when they travel internationally.
Another feature is that people will be able to get their NHI number via a QR code, which they can use to speed-up the testing process.
Hunter said My COVID Record has been designed with a mobile-first approach and general manager national digital services, Michael Dreyer, said it is likely to be available as an app early next year.
The Ministry is also working on a ‘verifier app’ that event organisers will use to scan and verify that a vaccine certificate is valid. This app will likely show a person’s name and confirm the certificate, without showing any private information.
Hunter said the Ministry of Health has worked closely with the Privacy Commissioner and taken every step necessary to ensure the system secure.
He explained that the vaccine certificates could not simply be added to the My COVID Tracer app because of privacy aspects of the Bluetooth technology provided by Apple and Google that’s being used as part of that app.
Ardern said: “we are trying to make it as user friendly as possible whilst complying with the rules of engagement for the app as it stands”.
She said Ministers and agencies are working on a new framework for how the vaccine certificates will be used and will release this before it comes into effect.
“We will use them as a tool to lessen the risk in what are currently considered high risk settings, including large-scale events,” she said.
The government is consulting on their use in places like hospitality and will define areas where they will not apply, such as essential health services.