Advocates say tech a barrier in obtaining proof of COVID-19 vaccination for some

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WATCH: Registering for eHealth Saskatchewan may have caused a few headaches for those looking for proof of vaccination, but advocates say accessing the internet in general can be a big challenge for some. – Oct 4, 2021

Advocates for those with barriers to accessing and using technology, as well as those of low income, are warning that obtaining proof of vaccination is proving harder for some than for others.

“Many seniors, or quite a few of them, are people that don’t have the technology, or don’t know how to use it. They’re puzzled about how they’re going to get their proof of vaccination,” said Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism spokesperson Linda Anderson.

Anderson adds that while the provincial government has specified that the wallet card obtained at the time of vaccination is an acceptable vaccine passport, not everyone still has their card and others are seeking something more detailed.

Vaccination records are available through eHealth Saskatchewan, but Anderson says many older adults will be challenged by the process of registering for an eHealth account and proving their identity.

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“It’s working very well if you have computers, if you have good internet and you know what you’re doing. But we know there are many who just don’t have the technology,” she said.

Read more: Saskatchewan sets new COVID-19 hospitalization, ICU record

Outside of the wallet card and eHealth Saskatchewan-issued certificates and QR code, the Saskatchewan government has announced that an immunization record printout obtained from a Saskatchewan Health Authority Public Office is also valid as proof of vaccination.

Paying that fee means forking out a sum many older adults don’t have the budget to spare, Anderson adds.

Peter Gilmore with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry (RAPM) agrees.

“There should be no financial or technological barriers to prevent people from accessing the pass,” Gilmore said, adding that his organization wholeheartedly supports the idea of a vaccine passport system.

“$20 for someone who has to live on $285 a month to meet most of their basic needs beyond their rent and shelter is a significant portion of their income,” Gilmore said.

He added that RAPM has heard concerns from vaccinated clients about not being able to access certain businesses or services because they haven’t yet obtained proof of vaccination.

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“We want to make sure that it’s as easy to access as possible and it should be provided either through the mail or through pickup for people who need it that way.”

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Anderson added that she’d like to see a centralized call centre set up to handle immunization record requests made outside of eHealth Saskatchewan.

“It has to be simple. It has to be obvious. A phone number. You phone. The number is staffed so you don’t have to wait for an hour to get your request in. Then there’s hope,” Anderson said.

Global News reached out to the SHA for comment on the request to waive the fee.

The SHA referred the request to eHealth Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Health.

eHealth Saskatchewan Director of Communications Lorri Thacyk provided the following response.

“The SHA handles the process/fees around the requests for COVID-19 vaccine records through Public Health offices. It would be best to follow up with them directly on that.

“Early this month, individuals who are not eligible for MySaskHealthRecord will be able to request a QR Code version of their COVID-19 vaccine record through eHealth Saskatchewan. More details about this manual process will be provided on the eHealth website when available.”

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Global News has reached out to the SHA for a follow-up response.

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