To unify all the LGU-issued vaccination cards throughout the country, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is set to launch the National Digital Vaccine Certificate (VaxCertPH) before the end of September 2021.
VaxCertPH is part of the DICT’s Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS) with the end goal of enabling the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center to vaccinate as many people at the fastest time possible. The vaccine certificates will be issued free of charge to Filipinos once launched.
If we are to believe DICT Undersecretary for Digital Philippines Emmanuel Rey Caintic, who was grilled by members of the Philippine Congress’ Committee on Information and Communications Technology Friday morning during a public briefing related to the country’s digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate portal (VaxCert.PH), DICT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the progress of the country’s digital network infrastructure, VaxCertPH will be ready for deployment and use within September 2021 (original target for the public launch was 01 September 2021). The delay in the rollout of VaxCertPH was attributed to more time needed for system and data readiness from the side of the LGUs (Metro Manila), including the corrections in data encoding, as well as integrating all data sets to a central repository, added by Caintic.
The development of VaxCertPH started in June 2021 when the Department of Health (DOH) raised the need to create a self-service portal that can be accessed directly by citizens. A verification feature was then added to the requirements with a QR Code scanning capability for use by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) and border control authorities. This new system (VaxCertPH) is different from the Yellow Cards being issued by the BOQ for food handlers, seafarers, and airline/aviation support personnel.
Internal users from the DICT participated in the Alpha Testing of VaxCertPH from 31 July 2021 to 02 August 2021, according to Caintic. This was followed by a Beta Test from 09-31 August 2021 with the LGU personnel of San Juan City.
“For VaxCertPH to generate a digital certificate, it relies on the Vaccine Line List data submitted by the LGUs to the central VIMS data warehouse. All the data are made secured through the necessary encryptions and may be cryptographically verified by authorized agencies, groups, or countries,” boasted by Caintic during the Congressional public hearing.
Based on DICT’s presentation, VaxCertPH adheres to the World Health Organization (WHO) Digital Documentation of COVID Certificates (DDCC) guidelines as a basis for global recognition and trust. As claimed by the DICT representative, the system uses verifiable credential standards that allow it to be interoperable with and ingested by authorized wallet apps like IATA’s Travel Pass, AOKpass, and many more.
From the time VaxCertPH was conceptualized, both source code and data captured by the system are owned by the Philippine government, added by Caintic.
By the looks of it, the system is based on the open source project DIVOC (Digital Infrastructure for Vaccination Open Credentialing; MIT License) created in India which was used for the rapid rollout of digital credentials for vaccination programs and was used as the reference system by the WHO’s DDCC. The software project is maintained by eGov Foundation.
Let’s wait and see how the government will implement this undertaking.