REGINA — With Saskatchewan’s proof of vaccination policy set to come into effect on Friday, the province has now officially released the two accompanying mobile apps to read the new QR codes on resident’s vaccine certificates.
Saskatchewan eHealth launched both the SK Vax Verifier app and the SK Vax Wallet app earlier today, making them accessible to both businesses and residents for use.
"Using the SK Vax Verifier app is a quick and easy way for businesses and organizations to determine if a customer is fully vaccinated according to provincial criteria," said Health Minister Paul Merriman.
QR codes have also returned to residents’ vaccine certificates, available through MySaskHealthRecord, after a potential information breach discovered last week.
The new apps are intended to partner with the previously released QR codes, to help simplify the process of checking vaccination status for both customers and businesses according to provincial mandate.
When a QR code is scanned with the SK Vax Verifier, the app will indicate green for fully vaccinated or red for not. No information is stored during the process, said public health.
“Businesses requiring proof of vaccination will also require ID from anyone 18 and older,” added public health.
SK Vax Wallet is designed to keep an individual’s vaccination record easily accessible in order to scan when needed. The app is not the only method to keep a digital copy of the vaccine certificates, and has the ability to save more than one certificate.
“[The app has] the ability to keep your whole family's vaccination certificates in one, easy-to-access place,” said public health.
The apps are not mandatory to use, said public health, but are meant to aid the public in navigating the incoming proof of vaccination policy.
Residents and businesses still have the option of checking vaccination status using other methods, including producing a printed or screenshot copy of a vaccination certificate with or without the QR code, the wallet card issued at the time of vaccination, or a vaccine print out from the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Both new apps will be available to download on Google Play and through the Apple Store within 24 hours.
Opposition calls for easier system
Sask. NDP critics said today that the website-dependent system for accessing the now necessary vaccine certificate has flaws, and that a different phone-based option needs to be added for those without access to a computer.
“The web-based system the Sask. Party has concocted is frustrating enough for the most computer savvy. It’s simply not intuitive for the many seniors contacting my office,” said Seniors Critic Matt Love.
Love said that he has heard many people say they are confused about the procedure to both find their certificates and how business owners are expected to use them, especially in the older population of the province.
The NDP wants to see a phone service created, where residents can call and request a copy of their vaccine certificate be mailed to them.
“We all know how to use the old-fashioned phone and it shouldn’t be hard to set up a toll-free line to type in your health card number to receive a free paper copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record in the mail,” said Love.
Currently, residents can only access their certificates by doing so online through the MySaskHealthRecord portal, or by visiting a public health office in-person to submit an application and pay a $20 fee for a printed copy.
Many residents have also reported long wait times to access the MySaskHealthRecord website due to high traffic this week and continued site errors, as people flock back online to re-download their vaccine certificates with the updated QR codes.
“Seniors and others struggling shouldn’t be penalized because this government failed to come up with a real plan,” said Love. “We need to make sure we’re taking down barriers and making it as easy as possible for everyone to get a copy of their vaccination record.”