Hamilton

Ontarians need QR code to prove vaccination next week. Here's what you need to know

Starting next Tuesday, if you want to eat inside a restaurant, or sit in at a bar, movie theatre or other settings, proof of vaccination without a QR code won't be enough. Here's what you need to know about getting your QR code, including how to get a free card with your code on it.

Libraries can help people print — and sometimes laminate — QR codes with proof of vaccination for free

Ontario residents will need QR codes to prove vaccination status as of Tuesday, Jan. 4. (Matthew Howard/CBC)

Ontario residents will need a QR code to prove their vaccination status as of Jan. 4.

That means starting next Tuesday, if you want to eat inside a restaurant, or sit in at a bar, movie theatre or other settings, proof of vaccination without a QR code won't be enough.

The province also said those places won't be able to accept doctor notes as of Jan. 10. (Those with an eligible medical exemption can ask their doctor or a registered nurse to submit the exemption for review in order to receive a QR code.)

Here's what you need to know about getting your QR code, including how to get a free card that features your code.

How do I access my QR code?

After getting vaccinated, you'll get an email to access your vaccine certificate. The link in the email expires after some time, so you'll want to access it sooner than later. 

You'll need your health card number and birthday to get the QR code.

If you don't click the link in your email in time or are in between shots, you can get your certificate through the online portal or by calling 1-833-943-3900. (Those who have a red and white health card or don't have any Ontario health card can call the same number.)

Libraries making free cards with QR codes

The Ontario Ministry of Health has previously pointed people without computers or printers to libraries to get their vaccine certificates.

Several library systems in the province, such as those in Hamilton, Arnprior on the Ottawa River and Southgate Public Library in Grey County, are also laminating proof of vaccination.

Lisa Radha Weaver, Hamilton Public Library's (HPL) director of collections and program development, said HPL has been helping people download, print and laminate their vaccine certificates since mid-September. QR codes became available for printing as well in October. 

Weaver said the program has been popular, with roughly 9,500 people using the service in December alone.

The library allows for 10 free printed pages per day, which means one of them can be the single page with the vaccine certificate. And if someone wants to get the certificate laminated, HPL staff will laminate one page per library member for free.

Hamilton Public Library will help folks download, print and scan QR codes. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Weaver said people use the service because they don't have smart phone or internet access.

"A lot of people, even if you do have internet access, they don't have access to a printer," she said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

To make it even easier, she said people don't even need to log into a library computer if they have a library card.

"If you have a device, you can also send your QR code document using our print-to-go feature," Weaver said.

"If you send your print request ahead of time ... you can just walk up to one of the printers, scan your library card, call up your document and print it there."

She also said people are showing up to the library to get help because they don't have a green health card.

"We have a direct line to public health and public health will help those people," Weaver said.

HPL asks everyone who arrives to wear a face covering, but can still help those without one using print-to-go by bringing the QR code to the person as they wait at the door.

The library is closed on Sunday, Jan. 2 and Monday, Jan. 3, but most HPL locations will be open Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"We're just hoping everyone is going to continue to be patient because we know that on days where there are changes like this, it can take up to half an hour for the Ontario website to let folks get logged in," Weaver said.

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