Vaccine passport “too limited”, says tech expert

Ontario to implement vaccine passport on Sep. 22

Vaccine passport “too limited”, says tech expert
“The challenge we see from a business perspective and an employer point of view is that [the passport] is too limiting.”

The date of Ontario implementing its vaccine passport is fast approaching. Businesses and organizations are now turning their thoughts to how to implement the new system and for many, tech seems to be the way forward.

Vector Health Labs is a licensed lab in the province of Ontario which does PCR and antigen testing.

The company also owns the CANATRACE COVID-19 health credential certification platform, a free platform that allows businesses to keep up with regulatory requirements around contact tracing and symptom screening.

With Ontario looking to implement a vaccine passport from Sep 22, Vector Health Labs is expanding its tech solutions.

“The challenge we see from a business perspective and an employer point of view is that [the passport] is too limiting,” says Asif Khan, Chief Technology Officer, Vector Health Labs.

Proof of vaccination status will be required to eat indoors at restaurants and bars, to access the gym, movie theatres, sporting venues or concerts, as well as to use a large meeting and event space.

Thus far, the provincial government has said that residents will need to print or download their second dose receipt until an “enhanced” certificate is available on Oct. 22. This system could pose a challenge for clients as well as businesses.

Khan explains that though clients will be required to show a proof of vaccine, when it comes to employees and staff these requirements won’t be put into place.

Indeed, the province has left it to businesses to set their own policies around how they want to handle vaccination requirements.

“To me, there's this inequitable scenario that's happening here, and a bit of confusion,” says Khan. “We don't believe that what the government is requiring in terms of technology is sufficient to handle all the different scenarios that are possible.”

Khan and his company have created what they are loosely calling a “health credentials wallet,” which includes more than a person’s vaccine status, such as recent COVID test results and contact tracing capabilities. He says that this kind of app would help streamline the process for businesses.

As well as easing customer experience, it can also be implemented in the workplace.

Khan says that the CANATRACE app will be available in October, in advance of the province deploying its enhanced certificate on Oct. 22. The “wallet” will include full health credentials such as vaccine proof, contact tracing requirements and symptom screening questions. He also says that it is flexible enough to include future potential requirements.

“It’s as simple as having your employees, staff and consumers who are interacting with your business download the app from the Apple or Android app stores – and then go through the process of creating an account and linking it to the appropriate government system through our app.”

Khan says that he has been having a lot of conversations across the province with people and organizations who appreciate the flexibility provided by the government in setting their own policies, but recognize a need to implement some kind of tech to support workplace policies.

“It's important that employers have the right to set their own policies,” says Khan. “[But] I would stress that if you’re going to allow that flexibility, you need to also make sure that you’re putting into the market tech that supports that.”