REGINA — With the release of the new vaccine QR code today, eHealth Saskatchewan officials said they will be temporarily suspending the PIN code step to activate online health records, in the interest of speeding up access to vaccine passports.
Davin Church, vice-president of program and technology, said the province has decided to let residents skip this step, to help them prepare for proof of vaccination policy coming in October.
“We feel this will provide quick access to MySaskHealthRecords for citizens, while balancing by serving with other identity information required for access,” said Church.
Previously, residents looking to activate an eHealth account to access their health records needed to call the service desk for a verification pin, in addition to providing driver’s license and health card details.
At the peak of demand last week, Church said that so many individuals were contacting the service desk daily for this step that wait times were as long as several hours.
Church said that since Aug. 5, an estimated 50,000 Saskatchewan residents registered for eHealth services in order to download their vaccine certification.
He estimated that about 200,000 individuals have accessed their record in the past two weeks, in reaction to previous proof of vaccination policy announcements from individual organizations and venues.
“We saw significant demand,” said Church. “And so as we moved through and re-evaluate that, [and so] for an interim, we felt that it balanced security parameters and privacy preferences, along with access.”
Church said that with the new QR code announcement, eHealth is now anticipating another similar surge in interest from the public to do the same before Oct. 1.
Those attempting to get into their online records today, following the province’s announcement that QR codes are ready to use, may still experience some delays due to the volume of traffic.
“As demand gets high, people will experience a queuing system online, which will limit the number of people able to access [the site] at any given time,” said Church.
He asked residents to be patient with the system, as the site’s capacity adjusts to the influx of traffic in the coming days.
The PIN code step has been removed from the process for at least three to four months, said Church, and those who activate their accounts during that time won’t be asked to complete that step. He also said that the possibility of removing the step entirely is "something we continue to evaluate."
For those not interested in downloading a QR code-based certification, or who are waiting to register their account with eHealth, Church confirmed that residents have two other options they can use as proof of vaccination.
The previous version of the vaccine certificates will still be considered valid, and so will the vaccine cards filled out by public health nurses at the time of receiving vaccination.
Residents are reminded that “fully vaccinated” means a person has received both doses of a COVID vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least 14 days prior.
This story has been updated to correct the number of people who have registered for eHealth and access their record in the past two weeks.