South Africa’s digital Covid-19 vaccine passport launching this month

Health minister Joe Phaahla has confirmed that the government will launch a digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate—sometimes referred to as a vaccine passport—in “just over a week”.

This comes after the department’s acting director-general, Nicholas Crisp, confirmed to MyBroadband earlier this week that the certificate was under development.

Crisp said that the solution would be QR-based, allowing users to load it onto their smartphone or print it out to present as valid proof of vaccination.

Addressing the media on Friday morning, Phaahla said the solution was built with fraud and other security protections aligned with international standards.

“This initiative is in line with the World Health Organisation initiated vaccination certificate. Through this, the WHO is attempting to standardise vaccination proof all over the world,” he said.

The certificate will be available to anyone whose personal information is reflected in the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) system, including those recently vaccinated and those vaccinated several months ago.

The department will provide further details on the new certificate in the coming days.

Joe Phaahla, Minister of Health.

The upcoming launch of the digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate comes as government reportedly plans to ease lockdown restrictions, which will allow for larger gatherings of people.

Phaahla previously said once South Africa reached sufficient vaccination coverage, the government would consider restricting access to public amenities for people who had not been vaccinated.

However, he clarified during the latest press conference that it currently has no plans to require the digital certificate to be presented to access public facilities or services.

Instead, the minister said the document could potentially be used to gain entry to entertainment or sporting events and possibly some businesses.

Financial services group Discovery recently became one of the first major businesses in South Africa to announce a mandatory vaccination policy for all its staff and service providers working in its buildings.

The company said it had a “clear moral and social obligation”, which was informed by its “core purpose to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives” to implement the policy, which will come into effect from 1 January 2022.

Private education company Curro and insurer Sanlam have since also announced mandatory vaccination policies for their staff.

Now read: Chinese Covid-19 vaccine to be tested on children in South Africa

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South Africa’s digital Covid-19 vaccine passport launching this month