Vaccine passport app set for November

New Zealand's 'vaccine passport' is likely to be a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate...
New Zealand's 'vaccine passport' is likely to be a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate containing a QR code. Photo: Getty Images
A new vaccine passport being developed by health officials will be in the form of an app that people will be able to download in just over a month's time.

The passport is set to be made available from early November, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says, and more details about it will be announced over the next few weeks.

Speaking to Three's AM Show this morning, Robertson confirmed a vaccine passport would be available in just over a month and people could download it on their phones around then.

The app is being managed by Ministry of Health officials who are working with private providers to develop it.

Work is also now under way into what an alert level framework would look like with a vaccine passport in the mix.

The news comes as Auckland has now enjoyed a week of relaxed lockdown restrictions in alert level 3 - although authorities continue to urge those in the city to remember lockdown rules. The rest of the country is at alert level 2.

Robertson told TVNZ's Breakfast that the technology around vaccine certificates was being worked on alongside members of the business sector - acknowledging the proof of vaccination people may need to give in future when attending a concert or event, for example.

The Government's goal continued to be for the country to get back down to alert level 1, when there would be no caps on the number of people at events because it would be relatively normal life.

"The certainty everyone wants is very hard to find when you are in a global pandemic," he told the AM Show.

Getting people vaccinated was still a big part of the toolkit and one which is still being pushed to help New Zealand beat Covid again.

"We want to push on 90 percent plus, keep moving and open up a whole range of options for ourselves in the face of Delta."

Public health officials remain confident about the situation of the current Delta outbreak in Auckland, with Robertson telling Breakfast show that a lot of the cases popping up were household contacts.

"We're feeling positive about the direction of travel, but as we've said before, there's a long tail with Delta and that's what we're experiencing now."

The Government has also given an assurance that it will not be making vaccinations mandatory. If you do not want to get vaccinated, you do not have to.

"The idea that we would go to a compulsory vaccination goes I think well beyond where New Zealand has ever been in this regard."

New Zealand was doing well enough going without a mandatory vaccination rule.

Robertson acknowledged that a mandatory vaccination rule would be very unpopular among Kiwis and would present human rights issues.

The way to get vaccination rates up would include ongoing initiatives already being seen in the community - including the new vaccination buses and Māori and Pasifika-led vaccination hubs - as well as ordinary people helping those in their own families who may still be hesitant about getting the jab.

"I think this is the bit where every single one of us has a responsibility," he said.

"Sit down and have that conversation with the person in our lives whose maybe a little hesitant...who is just a bit worried and a bit confused about some info.

"Each of us gets the chance to be a vaccine hero and go out and have that conversation. That's how we'll get there."

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