Digital app using QR code to prove COVID-19 vaccination status now available in Alberta

Author of the article:

Lisa Johnson

Publishing date:

Oct 13, 2021  •  3 hours ago  •  4 minute read  •  271 Comments

Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a COVID-19 update announcing the availability of a government-supported verification app to check proof of vaccination with a QR code during a press conferencev in Edmonton, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.
Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a COVID-19 update announcing the availability of a government-supported verification app to check proof of vaccination with a QR code during a press conferencev in Edmonton, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Alberta businesses can now download a verification app to scan proof of COVID-19 vaccinations with a digital QR code.

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As of Tuesday, the AB COVID Records Verifier app is available to download through Apple and Android devices so businesses can scan a QR code to verify vaccination status as part of the province’s vaccine passport program.

Premier Jason Kenney said at a news conference the vaccine passport, which the government refers to as the restriction exemption program, along with incentives and public health measures, have had a “real positive impact” on COVID-19 numbers, and that he expects the passport program will be in place until at least the first quarter of 2022.

“We are headed into an uncertain period. Even if we continue to see downward momentum in the case numbers and hospitalization numbers, even if we exit this fourth wave through the month of October, we will have to be on our guard as we go into colder weather, when people spend more time indoors,” said Kenney.

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As of Nov. 15, the QR code will be the only acceptable proof of vaccination, and other records, including paper records from vaccine providers or screenshots, will be obsolete.

The vaccine records Albertans can download and print from covidrecords.alberta.ca were updated on Oct. 1, including with QR codes, but businesses had no way to scan them for verification until now.

Health Minister Jason Copping said the new app doesn’t store personal information, but allows businesses and organizations to quickly verify the vaccination status of patrons and clients, along with an ID check.

Alberta reported 3,358 COVID-19 cases over the long weekend, including 1,085 new cases on Friday, 1,039 new cases on Saturday, 628 on Sunday, and 606 on Monday. Of the 1,053 COVID-19 patients currently in hospital, 242 Albertans are in intensive care. There are 15,295 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta.

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The numbers represent a dip from those announced at Friday’s update heading into the long weekend, when there were 17,839 active cases, and 1,101 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 250 in ICUs.

Copping said he is hopeful the province’s new daily COVID-19 numbers are beginning to decline, and added that while Albertans currently need to show proof of being 14 days past their first dose, as of Oct. 25 they will need to provide proof of being two weeks past their second dose.

Kenney said of those hospitalized in the ICU with COVID-19, almost 90 per cent are unvaccinated. Vaccination rates are creeping up, with more than 85 per cent of eligible Albertans having received one dose, and 76 per cent fully vaccinated as of Tuesday’s update.

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Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said although it’s good news that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations seem to have plateaued, they are still extremely high.

“We remain significantly higher than any other peak during the course of the pandemic,” she said, adding as of Monday the test positivity rate was about 8.3 per cent, continuing a decline that began Oct. 3.

Alberta saw a total of 33 newly reported deaths due to COVID-19 over the weekend — an average of more than eight deaths per day — including the death of a 14-year-old with pre-existing conditions.

Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO and president of Alberta Health Services, speaks during a COVID-19 update announcing the availability of a government-supported verification app to check proof of vaccination with a QR code on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.
Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO and president of Alberta Health Services, speaks during a COVID-19 update announcing the availability of a government-supported verification app to check proof of vaccination with a QR code on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, said ICU capacity, including surge beds, was at 78 per cent Tuesday morning, representing a small decrease in recent days. However, she added it’s still too early to suggest that this represents a trend, and frontline health-care workers continue to be pushed to the limit.

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“The situation still remains extremely serious,” said Yiu.

Thousands of surgeries continue to be postponed across the province as the health-care system deals with the fourth wave and receives medical help from the military, Red Cross, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Yiu said two weeks ago, more than 3,100 surgeries were completed across the province — only slightly more than 50 per cent of normal surgical capacity — and an estimated 3,500 surgeries were completed last week.

Yiu added that since Sept. 1, about 290 Albertans have been transferred between zones to deal with the high number of patients needing health care. Over the long weekend, 23 Albertans were transferred out of their health zone.

NDP Opposition health critic David Shepherd said in a statement following the government’s announcement that while the latest COVID-19 numbers show some positive signs, the app rollout came far too late. The NDP has been calling for a scannable vaccine passport since early September, when other provinces were announcing similar moves or beginning to roll them out.

“Jason Kenney and the UCP acted last, and acted least to contain this fourth wave, creating a crisis in our hospitals,” Shepherd said.

Earlier Tuesday, the government announced that as of Oct. 11, 152,063 Albertans have registered to receive the $100 pre-loaded debit card for getting a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The government is set to spend more than $15 million on the incentives. Albertans have until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 14 to receive their first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if they want to register to get a gift card.

lijohnson@postmedia.com

twitter.com/reportrix

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