Ministry of Health promises COVID-19 vaccine certificates for anyone vaccinated in New Zealand 'regardless of immigration status'

The Ministry of Health is promising a COVID-19 vaccination certificate to anyone who was innoculated in New Zealand, "regardless of their immigration status". 

Not everyone has one of the accepted identification documents to get a certificate, which include a New Zealand birth certificate, a New Zealand driver licence, a New Zealand or Australian passport, or a certificate of citizenship.

A grandchild reached out to Newshub concerned about their 76-year-old grandmother not being able to sign up for a pass because she is a permanent resident - not a citizen - and also does not have a driver licence. 

"This is discriminating against the elderly, especially those who cannot drive," the grandchild told Newshub. "Why would the Government make it so difficult for the elderly to leave Auckland for the holidays?"

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked about it during her press conference on Monday when it was confirmed the passes were now available. She said issues were still being worked through. 

"Certainly the Ministry of Health have tried to make sure that they balance the fact that you will need to demonstrate you are who you are - because this is obviously something where we're trying to make sure that we don't have any fraudulent behaviour - with the fact that not everyone, for instance, would have something like a passport or driver's licence," Ardern said. 

"What we're also working through is the ability for someone to access a vaccine certificate without having to use the web-based forms - so the ability, for instance, to use in-person ways to access a certificate in case there are issues with people's access to online tools."

The Ministry of Health was aware of the implication when alerted to it by Newshub, and provided some guidance on Friday for those who are experiencing troubling obtaining a pass. 

Vaccine certificates will be required once New Zealand shifts into the new COVID Protection Framework.
Vaccine certificates will be required once New Zealand shifts into the new COVID Protection Framework. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Anyone who has been vaccinated In New Zealand can get a My Vaccine Pass regardless of their immigration status," a spokesperson told Newshub. 

"If people don't have any of the six accepted identification options or a RealMe account for My Covid Record they can call 0800 222 478 for themselves, or someone else they have permission to call on behalf of, to request a My Vaccine Pass or International Travel vaccination certificate. 

"This will ensure those who are fully vaccinated in New Zealand but don't have one of the accepted forms of identification can still get their vaccination pass or international travel vaccination certificate."

The spokesperson said the Ministry of Health is also considering face-to-face channels for people to obtain their My Vaccine Pass. This could mean people going into vaccinating sites, pharmacies or GPs to obtain their pass. 

"We will have more information on this in the coming weeks. In the meantime we are asking people to be patient - My Vaccine Pass will not be needed until we move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework."

My Vaccine Passes are currently only being generated for those people who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand. 

The spokesperson said on November 29, the rules will be updated so that those who meet the criteria for an overseas vaccine that is recognised as 'fully vaccinated' in New Zealand will be able to request a vaccine certificate. 

However, in the meantime they can apply for one here

"Those who have met the criteria outlined online will then be able to request a My Vaccine Pass for domestic use in New Zealand when they arrive. They can apply for this before they arrive in New Zealand once their records are loaded and if they meet the requirements."

You can read more about vaccine certificates here.

When will you need one? 

Ardern confirmed on Wednesday the Auckland border will drop on December 15, by which time all of New Zealand is expected to be in the new COVID Protection Framework, or 'traffic light' system, to replace the alert levels. 

Under the new framework, freedoms will be determined by vaccine certificates. For example, when Auckland enters the 'red' light, hospitality venues can open with up to 100 fully vaccinated people but businesses that choose not to use certificates must remain contactless. 

Travellers will need to show their vaccination certificate or proof of a negative test result in order to travel regionally or else face a $1000 fine, during spot checks.