Latvia to develop international vaccination certificate

Latvia is in the process of designing an internationally recognized Covid-19 vaccination certificate, Latvian Radio reported March 3.

The digital tool is expected to be available by the end of April. Although vaccination has been ongoing for several months and each country issues its own documents of proof, the digital vaccination certificate will serve for medical purposes – register the received shots so that if necessary, the second dose of the vaccine can be received in another country.

48,709 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in Latvia, of which over 17,500 people have received both doses of vaccines. Residents who have been vaccinated are registered in the e-health system. A confirmation is currently received only in Latvian.

An international vaccination passport has not yet been developed but it is being worked on, said Agnese Strazda, representative of the Vaccination Project Bureau.

"Negotiations at European Union level are ongoing so that the document is identical, recognizable and coordinated. Because it's not worth developing one if no other country then recognizes it." 

The Ministry of Interior is also looking forward to the recommendations of the European Union in order to complement the “Covidpass” tool with the proof of vaccination, said Jānis Dreimanis, representative of the Ministry's Information Centre.

The European Commission has developed guidelines for a vaccination certificate that could prove internationally that a person has received a shot against Covid-19. The aim is to register vaccination and ensure continuity, as a person can receive the full vaccination course in different countries. For example, the first shot is received in Latvia, and the second somewhere else.

“Latvia is currently working on an IT solution to develop a digital system for managing the vaccination process. Ideally by the end of April this system should be working,” said Health Ministry's spokesman Oskars Šneiders.

The vaccination certificate is currently planned as another tool alongside the entry in e-health and the paper-format proof received by the person after the jab.

Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry has been addressed by travelers from abroad who have asked whether it is still necessary to show a negative Covid-19 test result or a statement proving antibodies. The arrangements are not yet intended to be changed.

"The World Health Organization also does not recommend the use of vaccination against Covid-19 as a proof and condition for international travel, as it is not yet known whether vaccinated persons can carry the disease to others who have not been vaccinated. Consequently, at this point, the certificate would be with medical intent," said Health Ministry's spokesman Šneiders.

During her visit to Latvia two weeks ago, Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said that Estonia had taken the initiative to create a digital vaccination passport, hoping to restore travel in the Baltic bubble. Latvia showed interest in this pilot project. A virtual meeting with responsible Estonian representatives is scheduled on March 11 to discuss the offer in more detail. 

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