As It Happens·Q & A

Forget your phone, put your vaccine passport on a shirt like this man

When the B.C. government called on residents to prove they’re vaccinated in order to participate in various social activities, James Immler was inspired. He decided to print his vaccine certificate on a T-shirt.

B.C. resident James Immler says he's making fun of the hasty government rollout of vaccine cards

James Immler (right) printed the QR code for his dose administration receipt on a white T-shirt, making it easy to access activities in B.C. (Submitted by James Immler)

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When the B.C. government called on residents to show proof of vaccination in order to participate in various social activities, James Immler was inspired to print his proof on a T-shirt.

In Delta, B.C. where Immler lives, he saw people lining up at restaurants with large printouts of their vaccination receipts.  So, he got his QR code, which can be scanned with smartphone or tablet to show his vaccination status, printed on something he could wear.

"I thought I'd come across looking more prepared — and it worked," he told As It Happens host Carol Off.

The province implemented new B.C. vaccine cards this week for people wanting to attend a concert, sporting event, movie, restaurant, nightclub, casino or fitness class. Initially B.C. residents only have to show proof of their first shot, but by October 24 they'll need to have proof of two doses. 

James Immler spoke with Off about his unique — and convenient — alternative. Here is part of that conversation.

James, what inspired you to put your vaccination record on your T-shirt?

Well, that's a good story, I guess.

Really, it's not so much a matter of convenience as a little bit of humour, and I wanted to ... make a little bit of fun of the unprepared government rollout of the card. 

What does your t-shirt look like?

It's just a white T-shirt and I uploaded the vaccination card, the moment I received it, I uploaded it to the retailer's website where you can order T-shirts. And I chose the front and back, to have the card on both sides.

And I clicked send and three days later, I had my shirt.

This is the QR code on your T-shirt. Can the scanners actually read the code that's on your shirt?

Yes, they can. 

I have the app myself ... anybody can download it on the App Store. So I tried it right away and it works perfect.

How have businesses responded when you show up with your [T-shirt]?

It's been hilarious.

You know, it's stressful for businesses as well. So when you come up and you have it on your shirt and you make it easy for them, it just helps everything out.

James Immler wearing a white T-shirt customized with the QR code for his vaccine certificate. (Submitted by James Immler)

Does it help that you are kind of wearing your heart on your sleeve?

When I first received my little wallet card with my first and second dose, I was proudly putting it around my neck and with a lanyard and walking around town. My family thought I was crazy and people were shocked and confused by it. 'Why do you have your card around your neck?' Well, because I'm proud to be vaccinated, that's why.

Have you had any negative reaction to your T-shirt?

There was one person ... in the first hour. I think they were a little bit of an anti-vaxxer, but I'm not sure. 

They were really interrogating me quite seriously about why I wanted to put that on my shirt. So it was a little surprising. But other than that, everybody's been very intrigued by it.

It's getting cool here soon, so I might get a hoodie made up.- James Immler

What do you say to them, to people who believe that this is a violation of their freedom, that mask mandates or vaccine passports [are] denying them their rights and freedoms?

One argument I've had is that a couple of hundred years ago, the average life expectancy was, I believe, 40 to 50 years old, and now many people are living into their 80s and 90s. And what do we have to credit for that? I think medicine plays a big role in that. So, how can we question, you know, the integrity of medicine when we have our existence to credit for it?

But what do you say to people when they say that it's denying them their freedom by having to have a mask mandate or a vaccine passport?

I said that, you know, your freedom is to stay alive and be healthy, so, it's the lesser of two evils. Maybe we're relinquishing a little bit of freedom by carrying around this card, but we're gaining so much freedom by the security of help.

So you think this vaccine passport actually gives you more, liberates you?


What happens when you got to put the T-shirt in the wash?

I've been very careful.... It's just about time for a wash now, actually.

Maybe you need more than one.

Yeah, I thought about that. Actually, it's getting cool here soon, so I might get a hoodie made up.

Written by Mehek Mazhar. Interview produced by Niza Lyapa Nondo. Q&A edited for length and clarity.



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