Australians who are vaccinated against coronavirus will be able to carry proof of vaccination certificates on their smartphones through existing government apps.
The ‘proof of vaccination’ certificates will be administered through the Express Plus Medicare app, Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert announced on Sunday.
Hard copies will also be available.
“The key thing for Australians know is that they will have a record, a digital and paper certificate. For some 88 percent of Australians who have a smartphone, they will be able to access that digital certificate there, downloaded, onto their phone as a permanent record,” Mr Robert said.
“They will be able to print it out and they can always contact Services Australia via phone or popping in and getting it printed for them. Every Australian will have a record of their vaccination, should they need it,” he added.
The process will be triggered when a GP or pharmacist administering the vaccine enters your details on the existing National Immunisation Register.
The vaccine certificates may be needed to gain entry to certain high-risk venues such as aged care facilities, though the states and territories will decide on how they are regulated and used.
The federal government won’t decide on what regulation the states may introduce around the need for vaccination certificates to be used for certain settings.
Last month the New South Wales government floated the idea that vaccination certificates may be required to enter pubs, cafes and restaurants in the state.
The proof of vaccination certificate will require sign-off from the federal cabinet, which is expected next week.
Mr Robert said that the vaccine certificates would also come into play when international travel reopened up, but wouldn’t say how widely he expected the certificates to be recognised.
“It’s highly likely that a certificate will be required for international visitors to Australia and we will continue to work with our international counterparts on our framework for vaccination certificates,” Mr Robert said.
The International Air Transport Association is in the final stages of developing a digital health pass to support the reopening of international borders safely.
The digital health pass, being developed in conjunction with the International Airlines Group, will manage and verify “the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travellers”.
The Australian government has decided not to go for a separate app but to use existing apps, following the debacle surrounding the COVIDSafe app.
The government spent millions of dollars designing and marketing the COVIDSafe app, which most states have found ineffective in tracking contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.