Ontarians can begin downloading QR codes for COVID-19 vaccine passport based on birth month

Click to play video: 'Step-by-step breakdown of how to get the new Ontario COVID-19 QR code proof-of-vaccination'
Step-by-step breakdown of how to get the new Ontario COVID-19 QR code proof-of-vaccination
WATCH ABOVE: Global News breaks down exactly how you can download the new COVID-19 verification certification with a scannable QR code – Oct 15, 2021

Starting Friday and into the weekend, eligible Ontario residents will be able to download their QR codes to be used as proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for entering some non-essential businesses.

The Ontario government has divided access on its website based on birth month.

  • People born in January, February, March or April can get their codes Friday, Oct. 15
  • People born in May, June, July or August can get their codes Saturday, Oct. 16
  • People born in September, October, November or December can get their codes starting Sunday, Oct. 17

For residents who miss their day, officials said to try again on or after Oct. 18 at 6 a.m. as the website will be open to any birth month.

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How to download a QR code

To download the QR codes, for those eligible on the select dates based on birthday months, Ontarians will need to go through the prompts on the government website and provide their 10-digit health card number, the nine characters on the back of the Green health cards, date of birth and postal code. Those who still have a red and white health card will need to call the provincial vaccine contact centre.

The QR codes will act as barcodes that can easily be scanned by businesses.

The government indicated the QR code contains a person’s name, date of birth, vaccine manufacturer, lots and dose dates, the jurisdiction for vaccine administration and information and specifications that follow SMART Health Card standards.

However, those who are scanning the QR codes which the government calls an “enhanced vaccine certificate” will only be able to see essential information. A piece of identification will still need to be shown as well in order to match it with the name and date of birth.

A sample of Ontario’s QR code certification. Global News
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Downloading and using QR code scanning app ‘Verify Ontario’ for businesses

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On Thursday, the province released its QR scanning app called “Verify Ontario” which is meant for businesses and organizations to use to check QR codes for fully vaccinated patrons as part of the enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certification. The app can be downloaded in Apple and Google stores.

For businesses and staff who are scanning the QR codes with phone cameras the app will display one of three colours.

  • Green checkmark indicates the vaccine certificate is valid and meets Ontario’s requirements for entry.
  • Yellow “!” caution sign indicates there is a problem. The QR code could be issued by another province/country that uses a different type of QR code, or made by a third-party service not associated with the Ontario government. Alternatively, staff can try again by wipe their camera lens, ask the visitor to increase phone brightness, zoom in or adjust camera angle and try again.
  • Red “X” indicates the vaccine certificate is invalid and does not meet Ontario’s requirements for entry.
Examples of Verify Ontario scan results. Government of Ontario

For those who choose to print QR codes, officials said the receipt must be visually readable and must be large enough to be scanned.

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The government also said Ontario’s QR codes are compatible with other provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec.

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 was made mandatory to enter indoor dining, gyms, theatres, clubs, large sports and concert venues among other settings on Sept. 22.

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Premier Doug Ford previously said the app and QR codes would replace the former digital version by Oct. 22. These new QR codes will be issued going forward and the previous receipts will be discontinued, officials said.

However, officials noted the receipts that were previously issued are still valid and must be accepted by businesses.

They also said the Verify Ontario app and QR codes are not mandatory to be used but are strongly encouraged for accuracy, security and speed. For businesses who choose not to use the app or do not have the technology, the QR codes still show the necessary information meaning residents do not need to carry both the older receipt and the new enhanced certificate.

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The government said work is underway for those who have a valid medical exemption or a clinical trial exemption to be integrated into vaccine certificates with QR codes.

Ford and members of his government officially unveiled the app and QR codes for the new enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate Friday morning at a news conference.

“[These temporary measures] mean we can allow businesses the comfort to keep operating safely,” Ford said. “They mean we can continue getting back to doing things we want without losing the gains we’ve made. They mean we have the best chance to avoid being forced back into lockdowns that nobody wants.”

As of Friday, Ontario reported more than 82 per cent of the eligible aged 12 and older population are fully vaccinated with 87 per cent having at least one dose.

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