Manitoba

What can you do with your immunization card? Here's what's changing for Manitobans

As Manitoba inches towards its vaccination targets and slowly reopens, some people might be wondering how they can take part in newfound freedoms. Here are some of the most common questions about Manitoba’s vaccine cards.

Immunization cards allow Manitobans to travel domestically without isolating, attend sporting events and more

Manitobans who have received two doses of the vaccine can apply for the immunization card two weeks after their last dose. There's a large demand for physical cards so the province says there will be delays. (Rachel Bergen/CBC)

As Manitoba eases back its public health orders and offers more freedoms to unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people alike, there are a few changes to what you need the immunization card for. 

As of this week, just over 71 per cent of Manitobans 12 and over have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The province says people who are fully vaccinated — meaning they've had their second dose for at least two weeks — are able to enjoy certain privileges, but they must show proof of that status.

That means you have to register to receive a digital and/or physical copy of a COVID-19 vaccination card.

Whether physical or digital, the card has a QR code that can be scanned by anyone with the province's immunization card app to verify your status.

The cards contain no other personal health information or data, and show only your first and last name and the QR code.

Here are some of the most common questions about Manitoba's vaccine card:

How do I show proof of vaccination?

Manitobans can register for the vaccine card two weeks after getting their second vaccine dose.

In order to get the digital or physical card, you need to create an account on the province's website and enter the required information, including your name, birth date, six-digit health card registration number and nine-digit personal health information number.

If you want to have a physical card mailed to the address on your Manitoba health card, be sure to check that box before you submit your request.

A man hold a phone displaying a QR code. The physical COVID-19 vaccine cards in Manitoba will feature a scannable QR code. You can also access your code online, or save a photo of it on a mobile device. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

The province says there's a big demand for physical cards and there are delays in getting them out.

In the interim, you can save a picture of the QR code — which will be created immediately once you've completed your request — to your phone. You can also log into the province's website to access your QR code when you need to show proof.

What can you access with the card?

Fully vaccinated Manitobans with proof of their status can access some events and relaxed restrictions that otherwise aren't currently available.

The cards exempt Manitobans who travel to other provinces from the self-isolation requirement requirements upon their return.

You also don't need to self-isolate if you're a close contact of a person with COVID-19, as long as you don't have symptoms.

The province also announced on June 23 that fully vaccinated people can visit loved ones who are also fully vaccinated in personal care homes and hospitals.

On Aug. 3, the province announced that when new health orders come into effect on Saturday, Aug. 7, Manitobans with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to attend professional sports or outdoor performing arts events that are approved by Manitoba Public Health.

They can also attend Manitoba Health-approved large-scale outdoor events with more than 1,500 people, such as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' home opener on Aug. 5.

Johanu Botha, the operations, planning and logistics lead for the vaccine implementation task force, says thousands of Manitobans are expected for the Bombers game.

"While people will be on hand to help you, we strongly encourage people to be familiar with how to access their digital card before you get to the game," he said during a July 28 news conference.

"Make sure that you can access your card easily or bring a readable high resolution photo of the QR code."

You must also bring a piece of government-issued photo ID like a passport or a driver's licence, he said.

Under the health orders coming into effect Aug. 7, fully vaccinated people will also be allowed to go to casinos, bingo halls and concert halls, and will be allowed to attend horse and car racing events.

Those new health orders will also remove the vaccination requirement for attending movies or dining indoors with people from households other than your own.

The card doesn't allow fully vaccinated Manitobans to do everything, though.

What can't the card get you?

There has been some confusion in airports over what kind of proof of vaccination Manitobans must provide.

The immunization card isn't recognized outside of the province. In order to show proof that you're vaccinated in other parts of the country, you must have a copy of your COVID-19 vaccine records through Shared Health.

Fully vaccinated people in the province must also abide by public health orders, including wearing masks in indoor public places and not gathering in groups larger than currently allowed.

Am I entered into the lottery if I don't have a vaccination card?

Yes.

In June, the province announced it will give nearly $2 million in cash and scholarships as a way to encourage more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The prizes will be awarded in two draws — one for people who get their first dose by Aug. 2, and another for those who get their second by Sept. 6. Anyone 12 and older who gets a vaccine will automatically become eligible to win.

Botha says there are roughly 2,000 people whose records need to be corrected before they're entered into the lottery, but he's confident they'll all be addressed by the first draw due date next month.

The draws will be based on people's health numbers, which will be encrypted so that they can't be attributed to an individual.

The winners of the first round will be announced on Aug. 16.

What about children under 12? 

The province says youth age 12 to 17, who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, will need their own immunization cards. 

They can create their own account and request their card, or a parent or caregiver can request it on their behalf.

In that case, the youth will receive the physical card, but the adult who requested the card on the child's behalf will have the digital card on their account.

Because there are currently no COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada for children under the age of 12, they will be treated as though they have the vaccine status of the parent or caregiver they're with at the time, the province says.

How is the card different from an immunization record?

The province says a vaccine record, which is different than the COVID-19 immunization card, is a personal medical record used in the health-care system. 

Your vaccine record can be used by health-care providers and used as proof of immunization to visit personal care homes and hospitals.

The COVID-19 immunization card, on the other hand, which shows only your name and the scannable QR code, is used only as proof of immunization for non-medical services, like attending a sporting event.

Why are there delays in getting cards?

Some people have reported delays in accessing their immunization cards. 

The most common issue is the name on the immunization card application form doesn't match their health card, Botha says.

Sometimes that's because people's married or hyphenated names aren't reflected on their health card.

"When you're applying for the immunization card, please enter your last name exactly as it appears on your health card," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Some people are having trouble getting a vaccination card because they don't have a Manitoba health card. Botha says that's because the immunization card technology is linked to health cards and you can't have one without the other.

Botha says the province will print immunization records for people who don't have the health card and need the record if they can't print their own records or access the record themselves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Find her on Twitter at @r_bergen or email her at rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.

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