Hamilton

Hamilton library will help people print, laminate proof of vaccination for free

The Hamilton Public Library (HPL) is launching a streamlined service to help people print and laminate proof of vaccination ahead of the Ontario government's COVID-19 certificate program that starts on Wednesday, hoping it will eliminate some of the barriers some populations face. 

Ontario vaccine certificate program goes into effect starting Wednesday

The Hamilton Public Library is launching a service to help people print and laminate proof of vaccination ahead of the Ontario government's COVID-19 certificate program that starts on Wednesday. (Jonathan Silver)

The Hamilton Public Library (HPL) is launching a streamlined service to help people print and laminate proof of vaccination ahead of the Ontario government's COVID-19 certificate program. 

Starting Wednesday, people in Ontario will need to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 in order to access certain indoor spaces that the government considers "higher risk," including restaurants, gyms, casinos and movie theatres. 

The library will help anyone with a green Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card to print and laminate their vaccine receipts for free at any branch.

Businesses and organizations that fall under the protocol will be required to ask for these receipts along with photo identification, such as a driver's licence or health card. Patrons must be fully vaccinated and be 14 days out from their second dose. 

Following the province's announcement, CBC's Dan Taekema spoke with housing advocates who raised concerns about how vaccine passports would add another barrier to those experiencing homelessness. 

Access to printers and smartphones, as well as lost identification, were all noted as potential issues. 

Andrew Fletcher, who is staying in an encampment in Hamilton and has been on the street off and on for the past six years, worries about how he'll get proof of vaccination. 

"The majority of us, myself included, don't have identification at all," Fletcher said. "So, how are we going to get these passports?"

Removing barriers to printing

HPL communications manager Shelley McKay said people might not have the tools needed to access and protect their certificates, which could be printed already or remain in an email. 

"Even if you have a phone or maybe a desktop computer, not a lot of people have printers. And if you do have printers, not a lot of people have laminators and/or maybe you just need a little more technology help, navigating the website and entering information, printing them out and laminating them," she said. 

HPL says people can print through a public computer or by using HPL's Wi-Fi and sending vaccination proof to a branch printer via a cellphone, laptop or tablet. 

The library's service starts Tuesday, one day before the rules go into effect. A library card isn't needed. 

How to get help

All of the library computers will have an icon for vaccine certificate print help and staff will also be available to assist.

Those who don't have a green OHIP card or have questions about vaccine certificates can contact Hamilton Public Health Services through dedicated phone lines at the branches. 

"It's a direct dial into public health and public health can answer any kind of questions," McKay said.

"If you have trouble downloading your certificates, they can answer any questions over the phone ... you just pick up the phone and you're immediately in the queue and you can chat with a live human being and get all your answers right there over the phone." 

The library is also working with public health to host pop-up vaccination clinics in its branches, with more information available online

"Vaccines and proof of vaccination will get us out of the pandemic and bring us closer to normal," Paul Takala, chief librarian, said in a media release. "Library and Public Health Staff are available for questions, and to help Hamiltonians get vaccinated and print and laminate proof of vaccination."

With files from Christine Rankin, Dan Taekema

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