German pharmacies to start offering digital vaccine certificates
From next week, many German pharmacies will be able to issue a digital vaccine certificate to people who have been inoculated against Covid-19.
Starting June 14th, fully vaccinated people in Germany can visit some pharmacies with proof of their inoculation, and request a digital vaccination certificate.
This will contain a code which can then be scanned into a smartphone and transferred to an app. Results of Covid-19 tests or proof of recovery from a coronavirus infection can also be stored on the app.
It's hoped that the health pass will make it easier for people to show proof when visiting facilities like gyms, hairdressers or during travel. At the moment people have to carry around their vaccination booklet.
According to the Health Ministry, the voluntary app called 'CovPass' should be available in app stores for smartphones before Monday.
What's the background?
At the beginning of the year, the European Commission agreed that countries would launch a digital health record – now called the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
The EU hopes the certificates, which they say are not strictly “vaccine passports”, will make travel easier and safer, and boost the economies of tourism-dependent nations.
Member states, including Germany, are implementing their own systems for how residents can upload the vaccine certificate or Covid-19 health status onto a digital platform.
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Germany has recently been testing out the process in several vaccination centres, but this is set to be rolled out nationwide.
Currently, more than 18 million people in Germany are fully vaccinated.
How can people who've already been vaccinated access the pass?
The website www.mein-apothekenmanager.de already has an overview of German pharmacies that offer free coronavirus rapid tests. In the coming days, pharmacies that issue vaccination certificates will be added so that people can search for one close to them.
People will have to bring proof of their vaccination and the pharmacies can then issue the digital certificate. They are issued free of charge.
However, the traditional yellow vaccination booklet or Impfpass is still valid - the digital certificate is only a voluntary offer.
"We wanted to develop a tool as quickly as possible that pharmacies could use to digitise proof of vaccination in a secure and legally binding way," said Thomas Dittrich, chairman of the German Pharmacists Association (DAV).
"The best way to bring proof of vaccination to people is via the pharmacy network close to their homes."
To start with, the number of pharmacies offering the certificates "will probably be limited," he said. However, Dittrich expects that "the number of pharmacies offering the certificate will very quickly be in the four-digit range".
Health Minister Jens Spahn previously said that the digital pass will be offered in Germany by the end of June.