No rush needed to update vaccination cards
ENNIS... unless people aretravelling they should hold outfor the digital certificate

THE Ministry of Health and Wellness says unless people are travelling before mid-December there is no need to rush to update their vaccination cards, as it will start rolling out digital vaccination certificates in another two weeks.

Going into the weekend, the health ministry advised that people whose vaccination certificates bore SII (Serum Institute of India) in the manufacturers' slot should go to permanent vaccination sites to have their cards updated.

“These individuals should take along their current cards to a permanent site. The change has become necessary, as the ministry seeks to ensure that the vaccination card contains the complete manufacturer's information and to minimise any challenges that Jamaicans may experience while travelling,” the ministry said.

Thousands of people are affected, primarily those who were among the first batch of people who received COVID-19 vaccines between March and April.

Director of family health services, and head of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme Dr Melody Ennis stressed that the cards are to be replaced, not manually revised.

However, one individual told the Jamaica Observer that upon returning recently to a vaccination site in St Catherine to update a vaccination certificate ahead of travel plans this week, personnel on-site had simply written “AstraZeneca” on the card, and refused to issue a new certificate with the correct information.

“That is not the instruction to the field. The field has been advised to rewrite the cards, the sample cards have been shared so everyone is aware of how it should look. Persons should be aware that when they go in for their cards they must take along their Government-issued ID or a letter from a JP; verification will be done and if they are found on the system it will be an easy rewrite; if they are not found on the system then it may take a while to go through the manual system to find them,” said Dr Ennis.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton also insisted that this is not the proper procedure, and that the cards are in fact to be replaced.

However, Dr Ennis pointed out that unless people are travelling they should await the digital certificate.

“The digital cards will be on stream from mid-December, so really and truly persons don't need to be rushing to change their card unless they are travelling [before]. Those are the ones we are asking to come in so that they don't have any difficulties at the airport. For other persons, we want to ask them to just hold on to their cards because in short order they will be getting the digital certification,” Dr Ennis explained.

At the end of October, ahead of the November 8 deadline for new stipulations by the US Government mandating proof of full vaccination to enter that country, Tufton gave assurance of the validity of the card for international travel. However, there have been reports of people facing challenges with immigration or airlines, in relation to their vaccination cards.

The digital cards are being done under a bilateral arrangement with the Government of India, at no cost to the Jamaican Government, Permanent Secretary in the ministry Dunstan Bryan has said.

He said in anticipation of the transition, the ministry would have carried out, starting early November, a validation process to verify data of individuals who have been vaccinated to ensure features such as correct name spelling, addresses and dates of birth.

As of Sunday, November 28, a total of 1,105,495 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, 597,465 of them first dose, 439,808 second dose, and 68,223 single-dose.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter

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