South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System
South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System
  • The South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System has been officially launched by the department of health on Friday.
  • This comes just days after the system first came online during a testing and troubleshooting phase which returned multiple errors, frustrating users.
  • The system, which produces a digital copy of the physical vaccine card, is linked to the vaccination code issued by the Electronic Vaccination Data System.
  • The digital certificate can be used to access stadiums, music festivals, and social events, should they require proof of vaccination, according to the department of health.
  • It also makes for easier travel to countries which require proof of vaccination.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africa's digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate, which features a scannable QR code, has been officially launched by the department of health on Friday morning.

The South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System went live, first appeared online on Tuesday, with no announcement by the health department. Vaccinated South Africans rushed to access their digital certificates and were met with error messages.

The department later clarified that the system was “not yet officially functional in a live environment” but rather in a testing phase “to troubleshoot all possible glitches” ahead of the launch.

See more | Vaccine certificate site off to a shaky start – govt will resend all EVDS codes to help

The development of the digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate comes amid government's move to ease lockdown restrictions and create a certifiable proof of vaccination.

"It can be used to facilitate travel, [for] access to establishments and gatherings, and other forms of activity that require proof of vaccination status," President Cyril Ramaphosa said of the vaccination certificate during the announcement of South Africa's move to Adjusted Alert Level 1 lockdown on Thursday.

"Streamlining and standardising proof of vaccination will also go a long way towards getting a number of international travel restrictions both from and into our country eased."

The system, developed according to guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in August, creates a digital copy of the standard vaccine card issued to those at vaccination sites.

South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System
South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System

This digital version, which can be downloaded as a PDF and used on a mobile device or printed, is linked to the vaccination code issued by the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS). This EVDS vaccination number is included on the physical card and the SMS verification received after being vaccinated.

The online portal requires those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 – either with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) jab or two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine – to complete a form. The person needs to choose their "identity type" using an RSA identity number, RSA passport number, or asylum seeker/refugee number.

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

Once the form is completed, with identity type, name, surname and EVDS code, users will need to supply their mobile numbers. A One Time Pin (OTP) will be sent to the supplied number in an SMS. The OTP can then be entered to access the final, digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate.

South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System
South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System

The QR Code generated is not intended to be readable by the general public, but for establishments and events which may impose access policies which require proof of vaccination.

“[The] QR reader will be phase 2. The App will be made available for vendors and proprietors, employers, etcetera,” the department’s director-general, Nicholas Crisp, told Business Insider South Africa on Friday.

The digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate system will be rolled out in phases. The system launched on Friday morning is part of the first phase, according to health minister Joe Phaahla. Over the next two months, the system will be refined.

Part of the next phase includes the launch of a mobile application which will allow people to access their digital certificates. It also includes the release of a dedicated QR scanner, which will be used to verify a person’s vaccination status for access control purposes.

The “expiry date” which was included on digital certificates downloaded before the official launch has also been scrapped. The EVDS project manager, Milani Wolmarans, explained that the initial expiry date had nothing to do with the efficacy or timeline related to the actual vaccines but rather updates to the digital certificate system.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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