As vaccination programme enters final phase, Govt develops ‘Covid passport’ app
The Gibraltar Government is developing a new app that will link to GHA medical data and enable people to certify they have been vaccinated, alongside the results of any tests.
The move comes as countries around the world explore proposals for vaccine passports in the hope of reviving international travel for the summer holidays.
“It is important that as we move to the next phase of our fight against Covid-19 we prepare to have our own Covid vaccine passport which will be a digital representation of the cards we have already issued and will verify the person’s Covid-19 vaccination history,” said Samantha Sacramento, the Minister for Health.
“The important feature which we are working towards will be the interoperability of our service with others to ensure we are able to work internationally with our own.”
The app is being developed by the Gibraltar Government’s Digital Services team and the GHA’s IT Department.
It will hold data on vaccinations and Covid-19 tests and could include other functions too.
The government said a key issue will be to ensure interoperability with other similar applications being developed in the UK and the European Union.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said this week that plans for a “digital green pass” will be set out this month, which would allow people to prove they have been vaccinated or show the results of coronavirus tests.
Ms von der Leyen said the digital green pass “should facilitate Europeans’ lives”.
She said: “The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.”
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference the UK was “working with international partners” on the issue.
“The EU is part of those discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it’s obviously important work,” he said.
“What I’d also say is that in a sense this already exists because you need to have a test before you can travel to the UK and, as far as I understand it from the details set out today, the EU proposal is that certification includes both whether you’ve had the vaccine and also whether you’ve recently had a test for those who can’t get vaccinated yet, which is obviously particularly important.”
“Therefore it’s something that we’re working with them and others on and it matters that we get the details of this right for international travel.”
The development came as Gibraltar entered the final phase of its vaccination programme.
By close of play on Monday, some 24,352 first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had been given in Gibraltar, with 13,704 people also receiving a second dose.
The brings the total vaccines administered to date to 38,056 doses.
The GHA has now opened up the Covid-19 vaccination programme to those in their 20s and 30s.
As of Tuesday, a total of 398 people in their 20s and 361 people in their 30s had received their first dose.
First doses will continue to be given at the vaccination unit in St Bernard’s Hospital until March 8, at which stage this unit will switch to giving second doses before closing on March 30 to allow the clinical space to revert to its original purpose.
The vaccination unit in the ICC will also switch to predominantly giving second doses from next week, although a further series of days to give any remaining first doses have been identified later in the month.
“We are now moving into the last phase of the GHA’s Covid-19 vaccination programme,” Ms Sacramento said.
“It is truly amazing that the team from the GHA have managed to give over 38,000 doses of the vaccine in only seven weeks.”
“Unfortunately last weekend saw over 40 people either cancel their appointments or not turn up for their appointments, risking wasting precious vaccine and creating significantly more work for the staff and volunteers who have to find people to fill spaces at very short notice.”
“Please can I ask that if people are unable to attend for genuine reasons that they give us as much notice as possible.”
“The GHA teams have worked hard to contact all residents of Gibraltar to offer vaccination appointments.”
“As we move into vaccinating people in the younger age bands, our teams are identifying a number of people who have changed their phone number and not updated their GHA record.”
“We would therefore now like to ask anyone over the age of 16 who would like to have the vaccine to come forward and register at https://www.gha.gi/registration-for-gibraltar-residents or by phone on 200 66966.”
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