Give me a crash course in . . . proof of Covid-19 vaccination
The vaccine record card is for administrative purposes, it is not a legal document
A Covid-19 vaccination card is filled out at a Walgreens in New York. The state became the first in the US to launch a digital health certificate. File photograph: Christopher Occhicone/The New York Times
So you have got the jab, where’s the proof?
When you got the first dose of your vaccine, you received a vaccine record card which will show your name, the date you received the vaccine and the details of the type and batch of the vaccine administered. The card is filled on the day of vaccination by the vaccinator.
It’s just a card – is that really your record of vaccination?
Yes, though remember: it is not a legal document. It is primarily for administrative purposes to show you have been vaccinated and the date when you are due to get your second dose. The card could be easily forged. In fact, the HSE has not even published the card online for security reasons.
Is this what they call a vaccine passport or vaccine cert?
No. There is no official certificate or internationally recognised standard certificate yet to show that you have been vaccinated or which could be used to permit you to do more.
What is the story with that?
It is still up in the air. The European Commission announced plans last month to set up a Digital Green Certificate that fully vaccinated people can use to travel. The certificate will show “whether the person has either been vaccinated, or has a recent negative test or has recovered from Covid, and thus has antibodies”, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.
Will it be a physical or digital certificate?
The Department of Health has said that the intention is to give people the choice of a digital or paper vaccination certificate, or both, under the EU system.
When will that be finalised?
Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there was “ongoing work at EU level” and that Ireland was “actively involved in that process” but it is still “a number of weeks away”.
Could the vaccine cert be created more quickly if more people get vaccinated?
It could, given the number of people due to be vaccinated over the coming months as we head into summer. But, as of this week, just 6 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated so it would benefit only a small minority of people in Ireland. There could be growing pressure to recognise some kind of vaccination record more quickly following the Government’s decision to exempt fully vaccinated people arriving from other countries from the 12-day mandatory hotel quarantine. But there is one complicating factor: transmissibility. Health experts say there is no definitive scientific data yet to show that vaccination prevents transmission, so that risk remains.
What is happening elsewhere with vaccine records?
Denmark launched a Covid-19 “passport scheme” last week to allow non-essential businesses reopen to customers who have been been fully vaccinated, have tested positive for Covid-19 two to 12 weeks previously, or who have a negative test in the previous 72 hours.
Last month, New York became the first state in the United States to launch a digital health certificate which verifies a person’s negative Covid-19 test result or if they are fully vaccinated. The pass is a smartphone app that provides a code, which can be scanned or printed out. It has been used by New Yorkers to enter sports events and other small public venues.
In Israel, where the vaccine programme is one of the most advanced in the world, fully vaccinated people can use a Green Pass to go to bars, restaurants, concerts and sporting events.
So there are not many places I can go right now if I am fully vaccinated?
No, unfortunately. Regardless of vaccination, people are still advised not to undertake non-essential travel overseas. Level 5 lockdown restrictions mean you cannot travel outside your county or within 20km of your home if crossing county boundaries. The only benefit for vaccinated people is that if it is two weeks since your second dose, you can meet another fully vaccinated person indoors without having to wear a mask or stay 2m apart.