The announcement of a digital Covid vaccine certificate for South Africans has been welcomed with open arms.
Yesterday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced the development of a digital vaccination certificate during the
weekly virtual media briefing programme on the response to the pandemic.
Phaahla said the department has commenced with the development of a digital vaccination certificate to confirm that a person has received the jab.
“The certificate is protected from fraud and can be uploaded on your smartphone. It is also printable,” he said.
“This initiative is in line with the World Health Organisation [WHO], initiated vaccination certificates in an attempt to
standardise vaccination proof all over the world.”
Phaahla said the department was aware that local elections were on the horizon.
“We aim to integrate voting registration weekend with the vaccination campaign,” he said.
“We advise voters and candidates to be vaccinated to ensure safe elections. We will work with the Electoral Commission of South Africa [IEC] and political parties to encourage vaccination during the registration weekend and during the campaigns,” he said.
Phaahla said 18 million more adults need to be jabbed to achieve 70% coverage of all adults with at least one dose by December.
“Our total vaccinations on Thursday was 225 550 doses administered, which was still far short of the
300 000 target, especially if we consider that the number includes second doses of Pfizer,” he said.
Phaahla said the total doses administered reached 14 367 151 on Thursday, with 10 510 378 individuals vaccinated with at least one dose, constituting 26.41% of the adult population.
This meant 7 021 256 people were fully vaccinated, or 17.64% of all adults.
Democratic Alliance shadow health minister Siviwe Gwarube said the digital certificates will allow people to have easy access to their vaccination data.
“This is not being used as a means to exclude people from accessing government services, but a move in line with WHO guidelines,” Gwarube said.
Public health lawyer Safura Abdool-Karim said the certificates were similar to those in the UK and Australia, where citizens could potentially be denied access to certain services if they were not vaccinated.
“It will require legislative amendment to ensure it can be used that way,” Abdool-Karim said.
“When we get vaccinated, the SMS could have served as vaccination certificates,” she said.
“The fact this will be electronic and be link Electronic Vaccination Data System can be used to verify somebody’s vaccine status in a manner that’s very hard to defraud.”
Dr Sayuren Moonsamy, flight doctor and medical evacuation expert, said the certificates were a step in the right direction.
“For decades yellow fever vaccinations have been mandatory to travel to and from other countries,” Moonsamy said.
He said people’s need to travel outweighed reservations they had regarding vaccine safety and they continued to receive the yellow fever jab.
“This is for a disease that has a minuscule prevalence in the world compared to Covid,” Moonsamy said.