Does NSW get a pass on vaccine passports?

Vaccine passes were back in the news this week as Victor Dominello, NSW Minister for Customer Service – yes, that is his real title – got on the blower to spread the word that the NSW government will trial an addition to the existing Service NSW app that will draw down data from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) and allow fully vaccinated NSW residents free movement within the state.

While a PDF of the vaccine certificate is currently available through the Express Plus Medicare app – and My Health Record, although no one ever mentions this – the idea behind the NSW system is that it will be added to an already widely used app that also allows people to check into venues, so users only need to open the one app. Security will be similar to what already covers NSW’s digital driver’s licences, and so should be exceptionally good. (The PDF can also be downloaded to the Apple Wallet and Google Pay, too, which is useful.)

Whether it can be transferred for the use of other jurisdictions is another matter, but it’s good to see NSW getting on with the job. How it translates to the rest of the country, however, is still unknown, and this is a problem. Most of the other states and territories use a version of the Check-in CBR app developed by the ACT, which works very well but is fundamentally just a simple, although very effective, QR code-based app.

It seems unlikely that vaccine certificates can be added to it easily or securely, so a national solution really does need to be put forward, but any news on this from the federal government has not been forthcoming. Not everyone has the Medicare app and not everyone has a My Health Record, and while there is the option of requesting a print-out of the certificate, the whole “show me your papers, please” nature of that exercise is quite disconcerting.

How an actual vaccine passport that will allow international travel is also still not yet fully fleshed out. There are several solutions in the offing – the EU system, the US SMART card solution, IATA’s recommendation – but we have heard nothing in terms of national leadership on how this will work out. If you know, let us in on the story. Similarly with non-NSW state-based vaccine passes: what are the solutions being discussed? If you know, let us know too.

In the meantime, our healthcare workers keep plugging away, supported by the great majority of people despite the rabble infesting Melbourne this week. We were most pleased to learn that the NZ Ministry of Health, unlike its counterparts in Australia, has been happy to open up a data feed to consumer-surfaced sites like Time in the Line, and we were thrilled to hear this week about a COVID data tracking site set up by a few young lads in Australia called CovidBaseAU. The lads in question have revealed themselves as two 15-year-olds and one a year younger and all three have proudly received their first Moderna dose. Absolute champs.

That brings us to our poll question for this week. We recently asked if we need an agreed, standards-based solution for vaccine passports, and most said yes, but that doesn’t seem to be useful for domestic purposes, with NSW going down its own path. So, this week we ask:

Do we need a national solution for domestic vaccine passports?

Last week, we asked if our health departments had been agile enough in adapting IT systems for the pandemic. 36 per cent said yes, our state health departments were agile enough, but 64 per cent said no.

Read your comments here, vote here or leave your comments below.


+1 # MNCLHD staffer 2021-09-27 09:13
Vaccine passports should not be adopted anywhere as they are in breach of the PRIVACY ACT 2015 so one must question the intent of the government to even be considering the use of our private health data in a public arena and where does the use of this information go in the future!!
We should all be very concerned!!
+1 # Kate McDonald 2021-10-01 12:16
Do we need a national solution for domestic vaccine passports? Most of our voters said yes. Here's the thoughts on what standard it should be based on:

Whatever GG says

We dont need a vaccine passport at all!! It is a disgusting idea that will cause mass unrest and conflict in the community. This is not about public health, and businesses will be targeted and shut down and the police instead of chasing criminals they will be bashing, handcuffing and fining people for no reason other than normal people say no to a disclosing their health details.

We don't need a vaccine passport at all.

What standard is/has/was applied to other "virus" such as common cold, flu? Medical apartheid is not the answer to a human immune system solution.
Maybe less about chemical ingestion and more about healthly ingestion.
Maybe get rid of part time jobs and you get rid of people turning up sick and spreading due to monetary stressors. .



Medicare app

FHIR SMART Health Cards

Nothing it’s a voluntary vaccination

from the national immunisation register

Needs to be a solid card not just phone based - otherwise my patients who are poor and don't have mobile phones will not have the same rights to travel attend events and go into shops that I do - this is a human rights issue.
Least difficult to implement /enforce.

MyGov medical record

the nsw one

SMART Heath Cards

International standards from HL7 and WHO so it can be used for overseas travel

don't care but pointless unless there is a trusted link between the certificate, the person presenting it, and their identity.
Associated to your mobile phone... either as an app or preferably in the Wallet for quick access.

Google and Apple wallet APIs

Digital (mobile device) and non-digital. Photo identification. Will need to be linked to rapid tests when available (as in EU).


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