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Traveller’s concern over QR vaccination codes

A sample Vaccination Certificate QR code (Image supplied by the Government of Bermuda)

A woman who recently returned from Europe said that Government advice on how to use vaccination codes overseas is impractical.

Claire Smith visited France and the Netherlands where she found that the QR code on her vaccination certificate could not be read by restaurant staff.

The Bermuda Government said that residents can direct anyone who needs to check their code to verify.gov.bm, which requires an internet connection and camera to carry out the scan.

But Ms Smith said: “No restaurant staff standing at the entrance to a restaurant is going to go through all of this looking up whatever, they are trying to run a business.”

She added: “Our QR code is only good for Bermuda.”

Ms Smith said that restaurants she visited in France and the Netherlands had scanner devices that read QR codes to confirm a customer’s vaccination status.

She added: “The French one could read my Dutch friend’s QR code.”

Ms Smith contacted The Royal Gazette because she wanted other people to be aware when they go overseas.

She said: “The Europeans must have some standard they’re all using. Bermudians travel so much, it’s going to be a problem.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “The best advice for anyone travelling abroad with a Bermuda vaccination certificate is to present it and direct any organisation or establishment wishing to verify it to verify.gov.bm for the QR code to be scanned using any smart device with an internet connection and a camera.

“Once scanned, the vaccination certificate holder’s information will appear, including their full name, gender, type of vaccine they received and dates of each dose.”

She added later that the Government’s priority was to provide “a system for Bermudians to validate their vaccination status at border controls to travel for emergencies”.

The spokeswoman said: “The challenge is that there is currently no global standard for vaccination certificates.

“This remains a developing situation around the world.

“The Government of Bermuda keeps abreast of the developing situation to ensure that our vaccination certificates remain in line with the standards that will eventually be agreed upon.

“Some of the options being considered are to join in the work being done by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, whose UK vaccination certificates are valid in the EU, and also looking at whether we can integrate with the Smart Health Card used in parts of the US and Canada.

“However, major integrations such as these are complex and often very expensive, so we therefore must ensure that whatever is decided is what is most suitable for Bermuda’s needs.”

She added: “While this work is ongoing – and if a Bermudian Vaccination Certificate holder is asked to verify their certificate and vaccination status – this can be done by advising the requesting party to go to verify.gov.bm and scan the QR code using a smart device such as a phone or tablet with an internet connection and camera.

“All of the relevant information needed to confirm the vaccination certificate and vaccination status of the holder can be seen on the screen once the QR code is scanned.”