WHO announces a new multidimensional Smart Vaccination Certificate

SWITZERLAND – WHO has revised the scope of the Smart Vaccination Certificate to include SARS-CoV-2 testing and COVID-19 recovery status. These documents will include critical components such as the minimum datasets, expected functionality of digital systems, and preferred terminology code systems.

The Smart Vaccination Certificate Secretariat made these adjustments following an advisory from the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee on the considerations regarding requirements of proof of vaccination and to produce interim guidance and tools related to standardization of paper and digital documentation of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures in the context of international travel.

Accordingly, the Smart Vaccination Certificate specification will be renamed as the “Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates (DDCC)” specification.

The resulting guidance will be published in a series of three separate documents, which will guide Member States on how to digitally document COVID-19 vaccination status, SARS-CoV-2 test results, and COVID-19 recovery status.

They will also include a section on national digital architecture, recognizing that Member States are still expected to decide how they want to implement these systems. The DDCC specifications will include an HL7 FHIR Implementation Guide (IG), including example software implementations.

Furthermore, WHO made it clear that it understands the importance of the need to digitize the paper-based International Certificate for Vaccination and Prophylaxis (i.e., yellow card) over time and has decided to take a longer-term view in this respect to examine the different technical possibilities.  

In addition to this, the scope and technical requirements for the Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates (DDCC) is no longer aligned with the remit of the Smart Vaccination Certificate working group when it was established; thus, the “Smart Vaccination Certificate working group” in its current form will be dissolved.

As this work will remain a Member State-driven process, WHO will continue to engage Member States and representatives of partner agencies regarding the DDCC specifications document.  

Vaccination certificated have been introduced in many counties for people who have already been fully immunized. The certificates are a key player in international travel as is the Covid-19 test certificate.

However, WHO urged national authorities and conveyance operators not to introduce requirements of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition for departure or entry, given that there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission.

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