QR coded vaccine certificates in queue

Back in July, migrant workers queued up all day and night for a rubber-stamped paper to certify that they have been vaccinated. Photo: UPASANA KHADKA

Digital vaccine certificates were supposed to help control the pandemic if properly implemented with the vaccination drive gaining pace. But the government’s designated website for QR vaccine certificates crashed before it even took off. 

Due to the high demand for the QR coded certificates, the system was overloaded this week, leading applicants confused about the next steps, especially as the cell phone number listed for further information has been unreachable indefinitely. The Covid-19 hotline operators were also unsure about who to reach out to. 

The site is now working but users are still finding it diffiult to submit their application.

The ministry’s notice also states that in the case interested individuals are unable to apply for online post registration, they can visit National Ayurveda Research and Training Centre in Kirtipur with necessary documents for the in-person application.

Required documents include original and a photocopy of passport, original and a photocopy of vaccination card, a recent passport sized photo, and an application form which can be downloaded at vaccine.mohp.gov.np/public-request-from or available at the centre.

Vaccine coverage worldwide now averages at 34.5% for the fully inoculated, even as the uptake between rich and poor countries differs vastly. And digital vaccine certificates have become the new passports for international travel. 

Nepal started issuing QR coded vaccine certification because migrant workers queued up all night and day back in July for just rubber-stamped papers to certify that they have been vaccinated. But the letter did not have a digitally-registered QR code, and hence risked being invalid in destination countries.

The Health Ministry then set up an online application with photo, ID, vaccination card and a self-declaration form for a scannable digital vaccine certificate accessible with encrypted link and QR code acceptable internationally.

WHO Nepal provided technical assistance including training, design and development of the ministry’s software system and IT equipment, and electronic vaccination registration system.

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