Five steps to get your Covid-19 vaccine certificate

With increasing talk of making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory in South Africa, you will  want to have your vaccine certificate at the ready. For those with identity documents, one possible obstacle might be that you misplaced your vaccination code, but this is easily rectifiable. But, if you are undocumented, the process might be near impossible. 

Downloading your vaccine certificate can take less than two minutes — if you are vaccinated (fully or partially) and have a vaccination code. If you deleted or lost your code in the flurry of SMSs sent your way during the vaccination process, you can easily get one. Either call the Covid-19 public hotline 0800 029 999 or send a message to the WhatsApp support line 0600 123 456 or email  [email protected]. Remember to have a valid South African ID number, foreign passport number or an asylum/refugee number ready. 

The department of health announced early in October that people living in South Africa could apply for a Covid-19 vaccine certificate through a digital vaccination certificate portal

Back then, national vaccination roll-out coordinator Nicholas Crisp said those who had received a second jab of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, or perhaps a possible booster jab in the future, needed to update their existing certificate with the updated information. 

Five-step guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to download a vaccine certificate through the South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System. 

  1. Visit the department of health’s vaccine portal at https://vaccine.certificate.health.gov.za/  
  2. On the site, choose the first bar reading “Get my vaccine certificate” and follow the easy steps that include providing your name, surname, and identification number, foreign passport number or an asylum/refugee number and your vaccination code SMSed to you. 
  3. Click to prove you are not a robot and choose “next”. 
  4. Confirm your cell phone number. Make sure it is a number that can receive an SMS, because a one-time password will be sent to it.
  5. Once you have provided the one-time password, you will be able to download your certificate.

Once you have downloaded the certificate, you will be advised by the department when an update to your certificate version is available. The QR Code is not usable by the general public and is for purposes to verify your certificate’s validity using a vaccine certificate system inbuilt QR scanner. 

Only people who have received their Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa are eligible to access the vaccination certificate.

Vaccination certificate for undocumented people in South Africa

The health department is “busy piloting a system” for people who are undocumented in South Africa to get vaccinated — and get a certificate, said media relations officer Foster Mohale. 

He added that it was “very complex” because undocumented people cannot get vaccinated at all sites. There are only three centres that can assist such people.

Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said that people without identity documents can be vaccinated on Tuesdays at the Hillbrow Clinic in Johannesburg. 

Asked how vaccination certificates were then issued, Kekana said she did not know, adding that it is a matter for national government as it would not be unique to Gauteng.

In Cape Town, healthcare workers administer vaccinations to undocumented people  through a paper system, according to health communication head in the Western Cape Marika Champion. Although there is no designated centre in the province for such vaccinations, the department works closely with centres for homeless people.

Asked about how undocumented people can get a vaccination certificate, Champion said “it is a problem” that requires a more long-term solution. 

It might be even more difficult to get a vaccine in KwaZulu-Natal, not to mention a vaccine certificate. 

The province’s health spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane, said undocumented people, specifically foreigners, are afraid to come forward for fear of retribution.

For those without any valid documentation who still want to get vaccinated, they can go to the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban that administers vaccines from Tuesday to Thursday.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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