Covid-19: Vaccine passports explained

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country will move into the new Covid-19 framework from 11:59pm Thursday, December 2. Photo: RNZ.

From December 3, when the country transitions into the new Covid traffic light framework, vaccine passes will become part of the daily routine.

The vaccine passes, which include a QR code, were rolled out on November 17, and in less than a week, over 1.1 million passes had been downloaded.

For those yet to get their pass, here’s everything you need to know about how to get it, how to store it and where you’ll need it.

This is what the My Vaccine Pass looks like example.

How do you get the pass?

To get your vaccine pass, you’ll have to create a My Health Account via the My Covid Record website.

To do this, you will need an email address, a password, and proof of identity (a driver’s licence, passport or birth certificate). You don’t need to know your NHI number to set up your account, it will automatically find your number in the system.

Once you have an account, your vaccination record will be available for you to view. It will show the dates of both your jabs.

The next step is to request a vaccine pass. It asks for you to tick a few boxes before completing the request form. The pass is then emailed to you.

If you don't have a smartphone or access to a computer you can call: 0800 222 478 to request a pass. If you’re doing it this way, you’ll need your NHI number on hand, and you might be asked some questions to confirm your identity. People can call on the behalf of someone else, but they must have their permission to do so.

What if you were vaccinated overseas?

People vaccinated overseas can add their records to the Covid-19 Immunisation Register.

The Ministry of Health recognises 23 different vaccinations, including the jabs from Janssen and Moderna.

This is done by emailing the ministry at covid-19overseasvaccinations@health.govt.nz. The process can take up to two weeks.

The ministry says on its website it’s not a guarantee that people vaccinated overseas will be recognised as fully vaccinated in New Zealand, nor does it mean eligibility for the My Vaccine Pass is automatic.

Where can you store it?

The email containing the pass comes from the Ministry of Health and Unite against Covid-19. It includes options for where to keep them.

Those options are:

  • download it and save it to your mobile phone;
  • print it and carry it with you;
  • add it to your Apple Wallet (for iOS devices);
  • or, add it to Google Pay (for Android devices)

The passes can be added to Apple Wallet or Google Pay simply by clicking a link on the email.

Consumer NZ said Google Pay and the Apple Wallet are great matches for the vaccine pass because they are extremely simple and designed to be used in a hurry.

A shortcut can also be created for the passes through the digital wallets, with unique icons making it look like an app on the phone’s home screen.

“I think that’s what people are used to with the Covid Tracer app,” Consumer product testing writer Nick Gelling, who specialises in technology, said.

All iPhones have the Apple Wallet. People with Android devices may have to add Google Pay. That is easy to get from Play Store, and is small and will install quickly, Gelling says. It is a little easier to make an icon for the pass on the home screen with Google Pay, which has a built-in function for that purpose.

Does it work with the NZ Covid Tracer app?

No, it doesn’t.

The NZ Covid Tracer app uses the Apple and Google Exposure Notification Framework, which stops the Ministry of Health from merging users’ contact tracing records and vaccine passes. There is, however, a link to the My Covid Record website from the NZ Covid Tracer app.

The NZ Covid Tracer app hasn’t been merged with the vaccine pass, but it links to it. Photo: Kevin Stent/Stuff.

Where will vaccine pass be needed?

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the pass will become part of people’s daily routine, like carrying a driver’s licence, scanning in at the supermarket or wearing a mask.

“My Vaccine Pass has a QR code that can be scanned upon arrival at a venue. The pass can be downloaded to your personal phone and stored in your Apple or Google Wallet, or maybe printed out,” Hipkins says.

People will be required to show proof of vaccination in a range of public settings – events, hospitality, retail (which is opt-in), community, sport and faith-based gatherings.

Venues and events requiring vaccine passes won’t have gathering sizes limited in the green and orange levels, but there are caps of 100 in the red level.

A trial of the process is being introduced in Auckland on Thursday, allowing for hairdressers and barbers to reopen with vaccine pass requirements for customers in place.

Proof of vaccination will not be needed for essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, health and disability services, food banks, petrol stations, public transport, schools and early learning providers, and housing and housing support services.

A breakdown of the traffic light framework and the allowances for places requiring vaccine passes can be found here.

How long are they valid?

The vaccine passes are valid for six months from the issue date.

If the pass expires but is still needed, people will have to rinse and repeated the process detailed in this article.

-Stuff/Michael Daly and Brittney Deguara

 




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