Tuesday, 05 October 2021 17:38

South Africa launches digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Department of Health has launched its Covid-19 vaccine certificate portal, allowing users to create a QR code showing their Covid-19 vaccination status.

The passport is currently only available to people fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with users required to fill in their contact details, including their ID number and Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) code.

Upon entering these details, users will be sent a one-time pin confirming the authenticity of the information they have provided. The pin can then be entered to access the final, digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate.

The department said that the QR code is not meant for general public use but will instead be used by specific entities that will use a specialised QR scanner.

While the Department of Health has not confirmed what the certificate will be used for, president Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated that a certificate could further open up the events and travel industry in South Africa.

"It can be used to facilitate travel, access to establishments and gatherings and other forms of activity that require proof of vaccination status, "he said in a national address on Thursday evening (30 September).

"Our approach is informed by World Health Organisation guidelines and is in line with international best practice. Streamlining and standardising proof of vaccination will also go a long way towards getting several international travel restrictions both from and into our country eased."

Health minister Dr Joe Phaahla said that the certificate would likely be used for specific services in the future. Still, the government has no intention to make the certification a requirement for accessing public services.

Instead, Phaahla said that the document would be used to gain entry to entertainment and sporting events and possibly some businesses.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) chief executive Busi Mavuso said that the introduction of a vaccine passport is long overdue in helping the economy to recover.

With South Africa’s vaccine rollout now past its nascent stage and the country administering a million doses every four to five days, it’s time to consider and introduce vaccine passports. We need to keep as much of the economy as open as possible, she said.

Mavuso added that a passport would ensure that much of the economy is shielded from the continued shifting between various lockdown levels.

"On a broader scale, we think vaccine passports against the backdrop of some vaccine hesitancy will help shield the economy from rocking between heightened and reduced lockdown levels.

"Under such conditions, it is difficult to attract much-needed investment that could help stave off rapidly rising jobless numbers – the highest of the 80 industrialised nations tracked by Bloomberg. SA’s economy has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, losing more than 1-million jobs, "she said.