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State launches digital ‘health card’ for vaccination verification

State leaders on Wednesday unveiled the Hawaii SMART Health Card, which will launch Friday.

The state-issued digital health card can be used to provide confirmation of a COVID-19 vaccination to businesses or venues that require it.

Individuals who received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson, followed by a 14-day waiting period, are eligible for the digital card.

“The vaccine information provided by individuals will automatically be verified against the state vaccination database,” Gov. David Ige said during a news conference Wednesday. “This will help prevent the use of fake vaccination cards.”

The program is free and voluntary.

“It is strictly a convenience for those residents who have been vaccinated here in the state of Hawaii,” Ige said. “The card gives individuals a convenient option to show their vaccination status on their digital device instead of showing proof of vaccination via the vaccination card or other physical document.”

Doug Murdock, chief information officer, Office of Enterprise Technology Services, said the digital cards follow the format recommended by the Vaccine Credential Initiative, a national and international standard developed in collaboration with health, travel and information technology industries.

The SMART card format also is used in other states like New York and California.

According to Murdock, the health card feature is being integrated into the state’s Safe Travels platform at travel.hawaii.gov.

“That was the fastest way for us to build it out and make it available,” he said. “… We hope that SMART Health Cards will help us keep our economy open while operating in a safe and healthy environment.”

To access the card, create an account or use an existing Safe Travels account at travel.hawaii.gov and click on the SMART Health Card logo.

Individuals should then take and upload a photo of their vaccination card and enter their vaccine information.

Once validated by the system, the user will receive a QR code that can be presented to businesses or other establishments that require proof of vaccination.

However, the Hawaii SMART Health Card QR code cannot be used for travel to the state.

Travelers arriving in Hawaii still are required to use the travel exemption/exception feature on the Safe Travels platform to receive a travel entry QR code.

“We have more plans for expanding the SMART Health Card in the future,” Murdock said. “This is our first iteration but we wanted to make it available as soon as possible.”

The state in the future hopes to add provisions for negative COVID-19 tests to the system, he said.

According to Ige, City and County of Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino have “aggressively moved” and implemented plans to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results for customers and employees entering restaurants or other entertainment venues in their respective counties.

The digital health card supports those efforts.

There currently are no plans to implement similar “vaccine passport” programs in Hawaii County, according to Cyrus Johnasen, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Roth.

“At this time we don’t feel it’s the right program to incentivize vaccinations on our island,” Johnasen said Wednesday. “However, we’re going to continue to monitor what happens on Oahu and Maui, and see how our numbers look, particularly in our hospitals, moving forward.”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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