COVID-19 Vaccine Certificates support Pacific Islanders’ travel

Vaccinations decrease Cases COVID-19. Several nations require immunizations when the Pacific reopens.

Tamanu has vaccinated Pacific Islanders aligned with COVID-19. Nauru monitors COVID-19 vaccines using Tamanu’s module. Nauru is COVID-safe, with fewer than 10 cases cumulatively (all in confinement) until May 2022, no community leakage, and a high immunisation rate. Tamanu offers internationally-recognized Vaccine Certificates.

Digital Vaccine Certificates improve the security and usability of the ICVP, also identified as the “yellow card,” established in 1933 and used for health risk control at borders for epidemics and pandemics like cholera, meningitis, and the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak.

Hand-filled and rubber-stamped. Like passports, it has multilingual labelling. Due to these variables and technological advancements, the yellow card is easy to falsify. A mobile-friendly document is also sought to “keep up” and reduce paper consumption.

Global and inter-regional agencies have developed two major standards for this purpose: the UN, via ICAO, created a Visible Digital Seal specification for VDS-NC, designed on the present ePassport infrastructure; the EU simultaneously put in place its Digital COVID-19 Certificates (DCC or EU-DCC). Tamanu supports Nauru’s VDS-NC standard.

How to acquire and utilise such a document:

First, immunizations. Tamanu doctors record immunizations in a patient’s history.

A patient requests or receives a vaccination record. PDF includes vaccination summary and VDS-NC QR code. Tamanu emails patient.

Authorities view the document on a mobile device or paper at a foreign border (or airline check-in). Barcode scanners localise VDS-NC data.

With certified data, authorities may authorise travel based on immunisation status.

As the document must be validated at the border or overseas to prove immunisation, this verification must be watertight: quick (can’t take more than a few seconds or everyone would miss their flight!) reliable (there must be no doubt, and no possibility of forgery). Standardize it.

Each uses QR codes. QR code readers are accessible on every mobile phone and many airport verification devices, such as self-check-in kiosks. New QR codes need a software upgrade or app to read. 

This means that a reader application in English may give a summary like the one above, while others in French, Japanese, or Nauruan may identify the information without misunderstanding or translation.

This data includes a cryptographic “signature” and verification information. This uses asymmetric keys, which offer a private and public key. They provide unforgetable proof that data was created by the secret key holder. The public key verifies this. Signing and verifying online communications like credit cards and boarding passes protects and authenticates them.

Double-signed vaccination certificates. Tamanu’s private key signs the QR code data, which is transmitted with the public key and signature. Nauru’s Signing Authority certifies Tamanu’s keys.

The country’s public key is shared with other governments via bilateral UN agreements (PKD).

An international customs agent scans a QR code to validate data using Tamanu’s public key and signature. Then, it retrieves Nauru’s public key from the PKD and verifies Tamanu’s, forming a chain of trust that ensures data authenticity.

Participants have 10-year public keys. Airports, checker applications, and other agents may receive all country public keys at once and validate QR codes offline if required. These procedures are instantaneous.

iOS and Android can validate digital certificates.

Our partner nations and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade helped us integrate Tamanu’s systems.

We’re excited to provide this option to Pacific countries so their residents may travel safely to Nauru, Tuvalu, Samoa.