At today’s 1pm media stand up, the Prime Minister announced the development of digital certificates and scannable QR codes, which will be used to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations both in New Zealand and overseas.
Next week, the Ministry of Health will launch the website My COVID Record. This website will provide a platform for everyone in New Zealand to access their COVID-19 vaccination records and COVID-19 test results.
Here are some key messages and Q&As which may help communities respond to questions about this new initiative.
My COVID Record
From the end of November, everyone in New Zealand will be able to access a scannable QR code as proof of vaccination and COVID-19 test results.
This will help ensure we are reducing the risk of the virus spreading at large gatherings and events over the Summer and into next year.
The first phase of this project launches next week with the website My COVID Record, where you’ll be able to view your vaccination records.
This is the same platform that will later allow you to download digital vaccination and COVID-19 test certificates for use in New Zealand and overseas.
You'll be able to either print or save the QR codes on your smartphone in your Apple or Google Wallet.
There will be separate codes for domestic and international verification of vaccination records and COVID-19 test results.
Until the end of November, if you need official proof of vaccination, you’ll need to request your vaccination records from the Ministry of Health and use the test results you receive directly from the DHB.
We are currently working with the events and hospitality industry to determine when proof of vaccinations might be required for entry to events and venues, and to ensure the technology is fit for purpose.
Summer is just 8 weeks away, so you’ll want to book your first vaccine appointment within the next two weeks if you want to have both doses before Summer starts.
Being vaccinated means we’ll be able to have a classic Kiwi summer.
What if I had my vaccinations overseas?
My COVID Record draws upon information in the national COVID-19 Immunisation Register (CIR).
If you have received a suitable COVID-19 vaccination(s) overseas and this is registered in the New Zealand Covid Immunisation Register, then it will be displayed in My COVID Record. We are just working through how this is operationalised at the moment.
How can I access My COVID Record?
Details will be published on the Ministry of Health website next week. It will be compatible on a smartphone or computer.
From when will I be required to show the QR Code at events?
The exact timing for when proof of vaccination will be required are still being discussed. We are also consulting with business, hospitality and events sector on the finer details of how it can work.
Can essential workers use the website as proof when it launches the week of 12 October?
If you need official proof of vaccination prior to the end of November you can request a certificate from the Ministry of Health. The My Covid Record can achieve the same result though but it isn’t yet designed for that purpose as it has more of the clinical detail of your vaccinations which is personal to you.
What are the options for people who can’t be vaccinated due to medical reasons?
We are looking at options for how we can record this in the COVID Immunisation Record (CIR) and how this would work in practice.
How do people access My COVID Record if they don’t have a smartphone or access to a computer?
Many local libraries have facilities where people can access the internet and printing. If you have family or friends who might not have access, see if you can help them access printing. We are also investigating how we make this available via a phone call.
Can I use the purple card I received at my vaccine appointment instead?
The purple appointment cards don't provide proof of vaccination status as they could be easily forged or altered. They are appointment reminder cards – so you know when your second vaccination appointment is.
What if I need proof of vaccination today?
In the interim, before the certificates are launched, if you need formal proof of your COVID-19 vaccination, you can request a vaccination confirmation letter from the Ministry of Health.
Can you build it sooner?
We are working with a number of technical partners to enable this to be launched as soon as possible while ensuring it is robust and secure. It will be delivered in stages with the final parts coming at the end of November to launch for the general public. There are a lot of underlying technical components that need to be brought together securely.
Why is it taking so long?
The underlying service took a number of countries (UK, Australia) many years to develop, when we began earlier this year we have taken advantage of what they learned to make it go much faster.
There have also been a number of on-going projects at the Ministry. Many of the people working on this project have also been involved in building systems for the Covid response including the COVID Tracer App and Book My Vaccine.
We have been working with the industry to ensure our approach to the verifier process will help them too.
It’s not just about the technology, we need a process to support people who don’t have access to digital tools, who don’t have access to ID, for people who aren’t vaccinated, and for people vaccinated overseas.
What if I am fully vaccinated, but there’s an error with scanning the code?
We’re working to ensure people can easily access support options if they find their certificate isn’t working. The design we are using is available offline and we are focused on making it as simple as possible.
Can people access other vaccination information on My COVID Record such as Flu or Measles?
No, it is currently only for COVID-19 proof of vaccination and test results. In the New Year we could look at options to extend its use based on what we learn.
How will we check the QR Codes?
A verifier app is currently being developed to read the QR codes. We are aiming to develop something that will fit with common tools such as smartphones or tablets. We are also planning to publish a standard in coming weeks for those that want to build their own solution. It’s important that the scanning tool doesn’t retain any personal health information.
Our event doesn’t have internet access, is that ok?
The system is designed to be operated without constant internet access.
Will records be required at all restaurants and events?
We’re still working through the settings where proof of vaccination will be compulsory.
Will it cost me any money to use the app?
The app will be free.
Who can access the app? Will it be restricted access?
The app will be accessible by anyone with a smartphone with access to the Apple or Google Play stores.
Why haven’t you asked for ID for people getting vaccinated and how do we know it was the right person?
A conscious decision was made earlier on in the vaccination programme rollout to support as many people to be vaccinated as possible which meant trusting New Zealanders to do the right thing. While it is possible to get vaccinated in someone else’s name we are asking New Zealanders to act in a trustworthy way. it is worth noting that this is an offence under the COVID Act, and there are health risks to receiving treatment not needed for you.
How do we know the certificates will be accepted overseas?
The international certificates are separate to the domestic certificates. These will meet EU standards for proof of vaccination to enable international travel. The government is currently talking with EU officials to make sure it is accepted there and officials have begun the same conversation with other international jurisdictions.
At this point, it is the closest thing that exists to a universal way to prove your vaccination status for international travel.