The B.C. government has begun issuing COVID-19 online vaccination cards for entry to restaurants, sports and entertainment, with an early surge in demand that created similar backups to vaccine and other services in the long-running pandemic.
The province’s technical team opened access to the website Tuesday morning, imposing a wait time as the system was tested and capacity increased.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the vaccine card is to provide additional confidence for people and businesses, as B.C. has passed 77 per cent of full immunization for everyone 12 years and older.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the B.C. vaccine card is needed to keep sports events, restaurants, pubs, sports and recreation activities going as the province continues to deal with a spike in new infections that took off in August. Fast food and take-out operations will not require vaccine cards.
“This is our way of keeping society going in the next few months,” Henry said Sept. 7.
Premier John Horgan said the Aug. 23 announcement of vaccine passports has produced a 200 per cent increase in vaccine appointments, as the province faces a surge in new coronavirus cases that is mostly among unvaccinated or partly vaccinated people.
Vaccine card access to businesses and events doesn’t take effect until Sept. 13, when it and a government identification card will be needed. While vaccine cards are issued to smartphones, computers or in the mail to people who call a toll-free number, the province is allowing the use of hand-written vaccine clinic or pharmacy record cards from Sept. 13 to 26.
The website for online cards is gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard and the toll-free number is 1-833-838-2323. Applicants will need their B.C. personal health number, date of birth and date of vaccination for either dose one or dose two.
Online applicants will receive a QR code that can be saved to a phone or printed out for use at entry points for businesses and events. People 19 and older will also be required to show a government identification to match the vaccine record.
The province is working on a B.C. vaccine card verifier app for businesses to reduce the need for manual verification of the cards’ QR codes. Businesses can find more information at gov.bc.ca/VaccineCard-Businesses, with a business information phone line starting Sept. 13.