Vaccine certificate problems
  • South Africa’s digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate system was officially launched on Friday, following an error-ridden testing phase.
  • But people, including healthcare workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Programme, are still reporting issues.
  • Some of these problems are purely technical, with the health department confirming that the system is under strain due to the sheer volume of enquiries.
  • Others concern missing or unrecognisable vaccination numbers.
  • Over the next few days, the health department will be resending vaccination numbers via SMS to everybody who’s been vaccinated to help solve the system’s problems.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africa’s digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate system is experiencing teething problems following its launch on Friday. The health department says it will be resending all Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) numbers to assist people who are struggling to access their certificates.  

The launch of South Africa’s digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate on Friday – following an earlier fragmented release during live testing – has been welcomed as an important step in standardising proof of vaccination.

Although government has stood firm on its promise to keep Covid-19 vaccinations voluntary, it has left the private sector to make its own choices when it comes to unvaccinated individuals.

Social gatherings, sporting fixtures, music festivals, and shops are just a few examples listed by health minister Joe Phaahla as events and facilities which may impose a proof of vaccination policy. The digital vaccine certificate, which features a scannable QR that’s hard to forge, will also assist international travel.

But the system isn’t operating as intended. Users are still receiving error messages, indicating a “network issue” or unrecognisable vaccination number.

The health department confirmed that a “high volume of people trying to access and download their digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates” was “affecting the network and responsiveness of the system”.

In addition to the technical issues, some users report never having received a vaccination number through the EVDS system. This includes some healthcare workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Programme. The digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate can’t be accessed without a valid EVDS number.

The health department hopes that resending EVDS codes to everybody who has been vaccinated will solve this issue and ease the strain on the site. The EVDS project manager, Milani Wolmarans, confirmed during the system’s official launch on Friday that SMSes would be sent out over the next few days.

See more | Here's what you need to do if you've lost your vaccine card or EVDS number

Following a flurry of queries on Friday evening, this strategy was reaffirmed by the health department’s spokesperson, Foster Mohale.

“We will be sending out vaccination codes to everyone on the system including [those vaccinated under] Sisonke,” Mohale told Business Insider South Africa.

“We have looked at the individual cases that was [sic] brought to our attention. And it seems as if this will solve the issue. We will monitor it.”

The health department added that those who don’t receive an SMS and are still unable to locate their vaccination numbers should contact the Covid-19 call centre on 0800 029 999. 

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