Jamaica to Implement Digital Vaccine Passports by December

vaccine passport NY Florida
This undated photo, provided by NY Governor's Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, shows the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. (NY Governor's Press Office via AP)

Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says the Government is working on developing a digital COVID-19 vaccination card, which should be available to Jamaicans in a few months.

During a recent press conference, Dr Tufton revealed that the ministry has been receiving reports about fake vaccine cards being sold on the island. He pointed out that this is one reason why a digital verification system is necessary.

“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.

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Major countries like the United States and the United Kingdom issuing vaccine requirements for international travelers was noted as another reason for the document.

“The announcement in other jurisdictions that vaccination is going to be required for visitors does require, as part of the infrastructure, a card that is going to be universally accepted and validated and where the possibility of fraudulently producing a card is minimised if not totally eliminated,” Tufton said.

Dr Tufton said the document will be similar to a passport, which has digital readings and is recognized globally. “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.

The Minister said the government is moving quickly to roll out the digital cards to ensure that Jamaicans can travel with ease. Tufton expects that Jamaicans will have access to the card by December this year.

“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.”

The 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.

The government is currently working with UNICEF, and other international partners, to create the vaccine passport.

Dr Tufton said that the passports will be modeled off those used in Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Vaccinated Jamaicans who now have the paper vaccine card, will have them replaced with the digital version.