During his address to the nation on Thursday evening, SA President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Department of Health would begin rolling out vaccination certificates as the government made its final effort to reach its goal of vaccinating 67% of the population by December 2021.
Currently, 17-million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with the government targetting inoculating 16-million more people by mid-December. In line with this, Ramaphosa announced the ‘Vooma Vaccination Weekends’ campaign which will see the government ramp up its vaccination drive by opening more vaccination sites over weekends.
According to Independent Media, Ramaphosa said that the Department of Health would roll out the vaccine certificates to be used as a form of proof of vaccination for those wishing to travel or access certain establishments.
“The Department of Health should be rolling out a vaccination certificate which will provide a secure and a verifiable proof of vaccination certificate which can be used to facilitate travel to access establishments and gatherings and other forms of activity that require proof of vaccination,” the president said, adding that this was in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
“This will also go a long way towards getting a number of international travel restrictions [lifted] both from and into our country,” Ramaphosa continued.
The president didn’t make a rollout date clear during the national address, but according to Health Minister Joe Phaahla, the certificates have been in the works for some time.
In the early weeks of September, Phaahla said that the digital vaccination passports would be issued to all eligible vaccinated South Africans ‘in less than a week’ – now, almost a full month later there is still no tangible sign of the passes.
At the time, SA’s Department of Health said that the digital vaccine certificates were “under development.”
South Africans are set to receive a certificate if their vaccination details, such as location, number of dose and type of jab match their EVDS record, and according to Phaahla, the digital certificates will be protected from fraud as far as possible and will be in line with WHO requirements for a standardised vaccine certificate for all countries to decrease the possibility of fraud.
SA’s travel industry reacted positively to the news that vaccine passports were in the works. Currently, inoculation certificates are being issued in Europe to over 27 EU member nations, allowing seamless travel between EU countries.
UK Travel Ban for South Africa
The United Kingdom’s inclusion of South Africa on a red list of travel destinations has effectively crippled tourism and trade with South Africa’s largest source market.
Ramaphosa said during yesterday’s address that he had held a call with Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, on Thursday and that a positive outcome was likely to be agreed upon “in the coming days.”
“We both agreed that decisions of this nature should be informed by science and are hopeful of a positive outcome when the issue comes up for review in the coming days,” Ramaphosa said.
“Our greatest priority now is to ensure that the economy recovers as quickly as possible so that we can create jobs and help businesses to get back on their feet.”