Jamaica Rolls Out Digital Vaccine Card

In keeping with a promise made by the Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Chris Tufton earlier this year, the Jamaican government has now rolled out its digital vaccination card or “vaccine passport.”

The cards were available to download as of Monday (December 20).

Tufton said the electronic cards will provide Jamaicans with a more secure, internationally accepted and convenient means of verifying their vaccination status.

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“This will now align us to global standards and so they will be accepted by the airlines, accepted by the countries around the world, and you can ultimately download this information in your phone and just show the coding on the phone and the information can be picked up which will allow you access to the locations,” Dr. Tufton said while addressing a virtual Covid Conversations press briefing on December 15.

The push for the vaccine passport was triggered by the United States’ decision to require proof of vaccine from all international travelers. As Jamaica enters a new phase in its management of COVID-19, the Health Minister also noted that having a digital vaccination card will also enable Jamaicans easier access to vaccinated-only events.

In October, Dr Tufton had promised to have the cards readily available before the end of this year. He also said that his ministry was made aware of fake vaccine cards in Jamaica, which was another trigger for the digital document.

“We have seen cases of persons allegedly having fake vaccine cards and we have heard anecdotes around the cost, and that is increasingly becoming a challenge,” he said then.

The passports are modeled off those used in Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, according to Tufton. In these and other countries, vaccinated residents have been using digital vaccine cards to enter events, restaurants, gyms and other businesses.

Jamaica’s digital cards will feature a special Quick Response (QR) Code feature to enable the information in the card to be validated, thereby reducing/eliminating fraud. Tufton further pointed out that persons who are not technologically savvy, can visit their health centre and get support in accessing and downloading the QR Code.

“So it’s not going to be all up to the techno-savvy to go online. That is an option, that’s the primary option, but you can also get support at the health centre,” he said.

Highlighting other benefits of the digital card, Dr. Tufton noted that it will enable the generation of a new card on demand; electronic features allow the card to be accessed on a phone or other electronic device; and ease of use for international travel because the QR Code is readable on all international platforms.

In addition, the QR Code can be used by organizations that quickly need to validate a person’s vaccination status without violating a person’s right to privacy.

Existing physical cards are to be phased out over the next two months and be replaced by digital cards which will be available online at vaxcert.moh.gov.jm.

Dr. Tufton thanked both the in-house Ministry of Health and Wellness team, as well as the Private Sector Initiative team “who have worked together with diligence and focus” to get the cards ready for download.

He also acknowledged the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in this effort.

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