By Carlena Knight
Fully vaccinated persons will soon be able to collect official photo vaccination cards to prove they have been inoculated against Covid-19.
Information and Technology Minister Melford Nicholas told Observer the cards would have security features to “limit the possibility of counterfeit”.
He said they would serve as proof of one’s vaccination status both locally and while travelling abroad.
He made the announcement during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, ahead of controversial new rules which come into effect on Sunday stipulating only fully vaccinated patrons may enter bars and nightclubs.
Because the cards are not yet available, he admitted that vaccinated residents will initially have to use the paper cards they currently have when entering entertainment spots.
Nicholas disclosed that, upon receiving approval from Cabinet on Wednesday, efforts are already being made to ensure adequate numbers of the new cards are produced and distributed.
“I have been working over the past week and a half with both the technicians from my ministry and those from the Sir Lester Bird Mount St John’s Medical Centre in the Ministry of Health to ensure that we can provide such a card in the very short future,” he said.
“We have purchased approximately 50,000 cards and we will expect them to arrive in very short order within the coming days and we will certainly begin the process of rolling out those cards.”
Nicholas explained that this will require vaccinated persons to report to a specific area to provide additional information.
“It will require each and every person who has been vaccinated so far to make another visit because, to ensure the cards are really secure, persons are going to have to provide some photo identification as well,” he said.
“This is going to serve a dual purpose, not only for the purpose of satisfying the requirement of the policy decision that we have taken but, in many instances when persons are travelling and they are required to produce that they have been vaccinated, the card will help them very much in that particular environment so we are in the process of rolling that out.”
Nicholas acknowledged, while addressing the forthcoming new rules for bars and nightclubs, that the current paper cards are quite easy to duplicate.
“We may have to start that process on August 1st with the existing cards and we accept that there will be some challenges with respect to the very flimsy nature of the yellow card but in very short order we will be replacing them all,” he said.
A parliamentary notice published in the Gazette this week confirms that owners and operators of bars and nightclubs face stiff penalties if they allow unvaccinated customers to enter. Penalties include a $5,000 fine or the suspension of their liquor licence for up to 12 months – or both.