October 1, 2021
Jamaicans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are to start receiving digital vaccination cards in another three months, in line with the global move towards secured, machine-readable cards that are universally accepted and not vulnerable to fraud.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton made the announcement yesterday at the ministry’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing.
The three-month timeline coincides with requirements recently announced by the United States Government that, as of November, all foreign nationals visiting that country must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination to enter. Travellers are also still required to present a negative COVID-19 test done within 72 hours of travel.
“Vaccination requires, as part of the infrastructure, a card that is going to be universally accepted and can be validated, where the possibility of producing a fraudulent card is minimised. We have to move there. The intention is to see a digital vaccination card available to Jamaicans within the next two to three months. If it can be earlier, we will certainly do so. We are currently in exploratory mode, working with a number of international partners, among them UNICEF, and others, to create this digital vaccine card,” Tufton said.
He said the plan is to have the card modelled off those used by major trading partners such as the US, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.
“It should take the form of a QR code and will be securely encrypted. Persons will be able to print their QR codes as well as have it available digitally via SMS and e-mail,” he explained.
He said once the digital platform is ready, all the vaccination information from the manual cards that Jamaicans now have will be transferred to the database.
“We will ensure that we move speedily to get to that point because we do appreciate that it’s going to be necessary, and for us in Jamaica to ensure that we manage the vaccination process and minimise temptation for deviant behaviour as it relates to the vaccination cards,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Dr Tufton advised that no firm date has been set for the next shipment of Pfizer vaccines to arrive, but that it is hoped that the doses will be available early this month. He urged adults — except for those who have already received first doses of that brand — to take the vaccines that are available to them now, as only children in the specified age group will be prioritised to receive Pfizer jabs from the new batch.