By Leon Norville
Information Minister Honorable Melford Nicholas revealed that the Cabinet is giving consideration to providing fully vaccinated young people with a barcode sent to their smartphone.
This is likely to replace the physical hard copy vaccination certificates currently being administered when people are vaccinated. The Information and Telecommunications Minister said the digital barcodes will be used for entry to certain establishments that will require digital evidence of a person’s vaccination record.
He said the barcode’s digital data will be pulled from the country’s existing Covid-19 vaccination electronic database which means that the information represented on an individual’s smart phone will be incontestable, and one is not going to be able to forge it. The digital barcodes, when used, will be in combination with picture identification for verification purposes.
Minister Nicholas said having the digital barcodes could also apply to large gatherings like concerts and party events as the country moves closer to achieving herd immunity, projected for the end of summer 2021.
He confirmed that under the supervision of health ministry officials they will be able to set up and screen people entering large events to confirm their vaccination status. He said people who are not fully vaccinated would not be allowed access to these large gatherings.
The Information Minister said, “This is something that we are putting out with the hope that it will encourage the young and the young at heart – person’s who fancy these opportunities later down in the summer when we get closer and closer to herd immunity, that they may want to do it now.”
The Minister is urging young people to get vaccinated now so that they can be ahead of the digital barcode launch should it become a reality. “You do not want to hear that an event has been announced because by that time it will be too late. To be effectively vaccinated, the date of the vaccination would have to pre-date the completion of the second vaccine and the event by the two weeks,” he said.
Although no decision has been made on the timing and rollout of this initiative, Minister Nicholas said that Cabinet has discussed the framework for the development of the digital barcodes, and will continue to look at its implementation.