As the UK government this week relaxed South African travel restrictions, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla on Friday officially launched the country’s first globally recognised digital vaccine certificate, with a government technical expert promising a foolproof identification – hard to be tempered with.
Phaahla said he applauded the work done by the technical teams, comprising health, the department of science and innovation’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – also appreciating partnership with the private sector.
According to Milani Wolmarans, chief director for policy coordination and integrated planning at the national department of health, South Africans have no reason to stress about the safety of the certificate.
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Wolmarans said the certificate, already recognised as valid by the UK government, was designed to meet international standards.
He said: “This is the digital version of the paper that you received when you got vaccinated.
“In terms of the availability of the code in its readable form, by end-October we will communicate accordingly.
“In terms of security, we have a cybersecurity specialist working with us to ensure we are putting stringent security measures in place – not sharing the data with anybody.
“With regard to your vaccination record, we have regular a cyber specialist looking into it – working with us to ensure we improve security.
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“With regard to the recognition of vaccination certificates, most countries would accept a digital vaccination certificate.”
According to Phaahla, the certificate was developed in partnership between the health and the CSIR.
Phaahla said: “Among others, we expect sports and recreation to open up more for vaccinated people – shops to provide discounts and others to give prizes, entertainment like music festivals to start opening for vaccinated people with safety measures, travel and tourism to open more.
“We are pleased that the UK government has decided to take South Africa off the red list, meaning more easy travel between our two countries.
“Even more exciting is that they have announced recognition of our vaccination certificate.”