COVID-19 vaccine digital certificate coming this week for Australians

Those with an Australian Medicare number can already view their vaccination history, but once two doses of a COVID-19 jab have been received, individuals will be able to retrieve a certificate.

From July, all national vaccination program providers will be required to report, where practicable, within 24 hours and no later than 10 days when a vaccination has been given to an individual in Australia.

The database, the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), is maintained by Services Australia on behalf of the Department of Health.

Providers can upload the vaccination information via an online portal, either directly or through software they use at their practice that is integrated into the AIR. It uses an individual's Medicare number for identification and linking.

There are no penalties for failure to upload the information.

When parading the availability of a sort-of "vaccination passport" around COVID-19 jabs in February, former Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said the record would "form the basis of the vaccination certificate that all Australians will be able to use" and that the certificate is available right now.

Facing Senate Estimates on Friday night, Services Australia CEO Rebecca Skinner clarified what Robert actually meant.

"At the moment, everyone has an immunisation history statement. If you have a myGov account, and you have linked your myGov account with Medicare, you can either look at your immunisation history statement through myGov or you can look at it through the Medicare Express Plus app," she said.

"Back when he was talking about that, earlier in the year, you could see your immunisation history statement. We then made some minor upgrades to that to add some more features, like a watermark, and a statement about whether you'd had your COVID vaccine, you'd had one shot … [if] you had two shots, you'd have a big green tick on your immunisation history statement."

An "immunisation history statement" is available already; the COVID vaccine certificate is set to come in the next week, but only for those who have received two shots. As of Friday night, that was around 690,000 individuals.

"Some of those people might even be able to see that certificate by the end of the week," she said.

The idea behind this, the agency said, was to avoid exposing everything else an individual has ever been vaccinated against.

"We've been on a journey, through the year, just doing small releases to bring a digital sort of record and then into a certificate," Skinner said, noting while the certificate is currently just for COVID-19 vaccinations, further jabs may have the capability eventually.

My Health Record also has vaccination information, pulled in via the AIR, available.

Services Australia representatives were asked why Robert said the digital certificate could be viewed online after an individual received their first dose if that was incorrect.

"I think what Minister Robert was referring to was that you could, at that particular point in time, view your vaccination through the immunisation history statement," Jarrod Howard from the agency's health programs arm explained.

"As of this weekend, the COVID digital certificate will be available … it's been a bit of a journey that Minister Robert would have known that we were on, but at that particular point in time, you would have been able to see it through the immunisation history statement."

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