Digital proof is next step in COVID-19 vaccination, officials say

OUTREACH: Conchita Kanistus, of Mangilao, gets her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities' community outreach vaccination clinic at the Barrigada community center on June 7. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

Showing additional proof of one's COVID-19 vaccination could soon be as easy as showing a QR code – or that black-and-white square grid – on your mobile phone – whether at the airport, a restaurant or even at a wedding party, health and tourism officials said at Friday's meeting of the Governor's Recovery Task Force.

The QR code, or the mobile vaccine pass, will not replace the standard white vaccination card that shows the vaccine type and the dates when one received the dose or doses, for travel purposes.

It would, however, serve as a secondary form of verification of one's vaccination status that tourists to Guam or those living on Guam could use on the island, according to Dr. Hoa Nguyen of the American Medical Center, and Mary Rhodes, president of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association.

The voluntary digital platform can also attest to one's recent history of a negative COVID-19 test.

If one has the QR code, one would not need additional documentation from the Department of Public Health and Social Services on COVID-19 vaccination status, Nguyen and Rhodes said, because the builder of the pass has access to the same immunization tracking system that Public Health uses.

Public Health uses WebIZ, a confidential, online computer system that keeps track of immunizations.

Rhodes said the California firm G8Pass, which is developing the QR code system for Guam, already got permission from the company that owns WebIZ to verify one's COVID-19 vaccination status.

"We're hoping that a lot of businesses will adopt this as a means to enter their establishment," Rhodes said. "We want to add this to the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) safe travel protocols and Guam Safe Certification program, to adopt the QR code system to identify people as they enter their establishment."

Nguyen, chairman of the governor's Physicians Advisory Group, said the QR code that's being developed by G8Pass, could be launched by Tuesday or Wednesday.

GHRA plans to roll it out during its economic forum.

Across the United States, states and businesses such as G8Pass have been developing systems that aim to produce trustworthy and verifiable copies of COVID-19 vaccination records in digital form.

It's a "free, efficient and secured way to present your coronavirus vaccination status, or even your recent history of a negative COVID-19 test," G8Pass said.

Rhodes said people who received their vaccination through American Medical Center or the Guam Regional Medical City, either at their clinics or at their mass vaccinations, are already eligible to get the QR code.

Those who got their vaccination at the University of Guam Calvo Field House or other clinics could also get their QR Code by registering at guamcovid.com that G8Pass set up for Guam, Rhodes said.

To register, a fully vaccinated person will be asked to register and verify himself or herself by uploading a picture ID such as a driver's license, passport or another government-issued ID.

One will also be asked to upload their CDC card or the white vaccination card. It could take two to three days for the QR code with a picture to be sent to one's phone after the application is completed and verified.

Guam Visitors Bureau President Carl Gutierrez said GVB supports this digital proof of vaccination, and it has already approached Adelup about this.

"We want to make sure everybody can get it," he said, estimating 140,000 vaccine-eligible individuals on Guam, and he said this could cost nearly $1 million.

It's now a matter of finding the funding source, and GovGuam may have to use pandemic recovery funds to support this, Gutierrez said.

Other key points about the QR code:

  • Similar to a mobile or digital airline boarding pass, one can also store their COVID-19 vaccination pass digitally on their smartphone or print it out to present at participating businesses, hotels and venues.
  • Businesses and venues can verify one's vaccination pass by scanning it to ensure one meets any COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements for entry.
  • Once one enters an establishment or event, one will still be required to follow standard state and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols regarding social distancing, wearing masks or hand hygiene to help control the spread of the virus.
  • The program is voluntary. One can always opt to show establishments or venues other proof of vaccination.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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