German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday that Germany will roll out a digital immunity certificate “CovPass” by the end of June, making it easier to definitively prove that a person has been fully vaccinated.
The digital passport must be available together with Germany’s traditional yellow paper vaccination booklet, he emphasized.
People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who have recovered have recently been exempted from many restrictions in Germany. This includes travel restrictions, something that is very relevant throughout Europe ahead of the summer holidays.
The outgoing Health Minister of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has announced new COVID-19 measures and spread optimism daily too late. Observers also see this as an attempt to garner voter support ahead of the September parliamentary elections, in which Spahan̵
So from next week, Germans will be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated by simply displaying an app on their smartphones. Those who have already received all of their jabs are presumed to be able to receive their digital certification retroactively.
In Germany, COVID-19 vaccines are administered in vaccination centers, by general practitioners and, more recently, by company doctors.
All those who have already received their second vaccination at the vaccination center must automatically receive their vaccination e-certificate by Post in the next few weeks. Using the QR code in it, the data can be uploaded to the apps designed for this, such as the “CovPass” or Corona alert app.
But doctors and pharmacists are ill-prepared and feel lost.
Reimbursement for the extra work involved in issuing the digital certificate is regulated: Physicians have been promised a reimbursement of € 2-6 ($ 2.4- $ 7.3) for each digital document they issue to the patients they vaccinate. For retroactive issuance of a certificate, clinics receive vaccination centers and pharmacies € 18.
Since its introduction last year, the German COVID tracking app has been criticized as not very useful
There are 20,000 pharmacies in Germany; they can sign up for the digital vaccine certification procedure starting this week.
But Andreas Müller, a pharmacist in Berlin who did not want his real name published, told DW on Wednesday that he still had no information on how this should actually work.
“I received a confirmation email from the Association of Pharmacists confirming that we can issue the digital certificate. But that was it, no further information!” He shrugs.
“We have to start on Monday. But I do not know how to do this. I have no software for it. And I do not know how to tell a fake paper certificate from a real one.” This really worries him, as issuing a fake certificate can be punished as an offense and carries a fine.
The pharmacy already had eight people who came in on Wednesday and asked for a digital certificate. At the pharmacy around the corner, there were even 20 people, all of whom had to be turned away without being able to tell them when they could start handing out the digital certificates. “It almost makes me laugh,” Müller says with a despairing look.
Nearly 20 million people in Germany have been fully vaccinated. They all have small vaccine stickers and stamps together in their yellow vaccination booklets. But many people do not want the hassle of having it with them all the time – not least for fear of losing it.
A certificate on a smartphone app would be much easier for restaurant visits or travel.
The European Parliament announced on Wednesday its approval of the use of digital COVID-19 certificates in the EU, saying that it is now up to the Member States to apply the rules.
The measures enter into force on 1 July and last for 12 months.
The proposed certificates will enable a safer journey between EU countries by validating whether anyone has been fully vaccinated, recently tested negative for the virus or has recovered from the disease. The EU will also provide 100 million. EUR available for purchase of COVID-19 test.
But Germany is lagging behind. The country has managed to expand its national coronavirus tracking app to read QR codes confirming vaccination. But it is unclear whether this is compatible with the new EU app.
General practitioner Michael Schäfer in Berlin is also lost. He does not know what to say when his patients ask him about the digital certificate. “We hear something new every day,” he says. “But not exactly how it should work. It should basically be integrated into our administrative software, but administrative software vendor PVS has not yet received any instructions.”
The government wants PVS, the billing system for healthcare providers, to develop and distribute a relevant software update for the COVID-19 digital passport by July 12 – but preferably by the end of June; However, Schäfer is in doubt as to whether this timeline is realistic.
This article is translated from German.
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