A Melbourne vaccine passport appears imminent as state and federal governments throw their support behind the measure.
A vaccine passport is set to be the next step in allowing Australians that are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to re-enter the community under modified lockdown arrangements.
The ‘passport’ that’s set to be rolled out in the coming months will likely resemble a QR-style application, similar to the Service Victoria app that Melburnians currently use to check in before they enter businesses.
Daniel Andrews revealed that Victoria, alongside the Northern Territory and Tasmania, have been working on modelling for a vaccine passport this month. The three state sub-committee is due to release their report this Friday.
What you need to know
- Vaccine passports have support from both sides of politics
- They’ve been successfully rolled out in Israel and across Europe
- Vaccine passports use QR codes linked to an Australian government register
Stay up to date with what’s happening in Melbourne here.
Victorians are currently required to show staff that they’ve checked in to their businesses using the Service Victoria app, by scanning a QR code using their mobile phone cameras.
In a vaccine passport system, these QR codes will be linked to the Australian Immunisation Register, a national register that contains the vaccination history of every Australian. This is updated by the vaccine providers, and is currently where Australia is acquiring its vaccination rate statistics from.
This passport system first emerged in Israel, which was among the fastest countries to vaccinate their population after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They use a ‘green pass’ based on a mobile QR code application, allowing residents access to restaurants, clubs and bars.
Interestingly, Israel also utilised a temporary pass system, which allowed people access to venues for 72 hours after receiving a negative COVID-19 test without requiring vaccination. However it’s uncertain whether such a system would be included in an Australian rollout.
Australia’s vaccine passport necessity
Victoria is not only playing a leading role in the design of an Australian vaccine passport, but also in the pathway out of COVID-19 restrictions.
The federal government’s COVID plan is based on modelling from the Doherty Institute, a think-tank partnership between Melbourne University and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed to 2GB radio on Wednesday that businesses are protected by current property laws, which will allow them to refuse entry to patrons without a vaccine passport, if such a system is rolled out.
The Doherty Institute’s modelling insists that despite high COVID-19 case numbers, Australia can begin to transition state-wide lockdowns into highly-targeted, less intensive control measures when the national vaccination rate hits 70%.
However, it’s likely that vaccine passports will still be necessary if – or after – Australia hits 80% vaccination rates, as a way of restoring domestic and international travel without quarantine.
Read about the Australian Human Rights Commission’s findings on the use of a vaccine passport here.