Coronavirus vaccination
08:54 · 18 August 2021

How the digital vaccination certificate works

Getting vaccinated against the coronavirus protects you and those around you while allowing you to benefit from certain eased rules. The precondition is reliable proof of full vaccination provided by the yellow vaccination booklet – or the digital vaccination certificate on your smartphone. More information in this article.

Using the app as proof of coronavirus vaccination

The digital vaccination certificate provides an additional, voluntary possibility of documenting vaccinations. It enables fully vaccinated people to verify their immunity via a smartphone without requiring the yellow vaccination booklet. It allows them to store and manage information, such as date of vaccination and type of vaccine, digitally in a personalised and convenient form on their smartphone. Starting now, the digital vaccination certificate will become increasingly available. Vaccination centres, doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies are being connected step-by-step to the system, enabling them to issue these digital certificates. The plan is to also incorporate company doctors. The yellow vaccination booklet remains a valid form of proof.

Where do I get the digital vaccination certificate?

In the future, the digital vaccination certificate will gradually be issued at the location where the second vaccine dose was administered, in other words, at the doctor’s surgery or the vaccination centre, and as soon as possible also by the company doctors. After entry or import of the vaccination data, a QR code is generated that the people who have been vaccinated can immediately scan or take with them in printed form for scanning at a later date as needed. Besides the free Corona-Warn-App, the free CovPass-App (content only in German) by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) also enables you to store the digital vaccination certificate on your smartphone. The certificate indicates once you have reached the full vaccination protection 14 days after the final vaccination.

Retrospective issue of the digital vaccination certificate

It is also possible to retrospectively have the QR code issued at pharmacies or doctors’ surgeries. Pharmacies have been offering this service since mid-June. Many Federal Länder are currently assessing whether to automatically send people who were fully vaccinated in vaccination centres the QR code by post or provide it through online portals.

What does the digital vaccination certificate cost the user?

Both the Corona-Warn-App and the Cov-Pass-App can be downloaded and used free of charge. Doctors and pharmacists are remunerated for issuing the QR code according to the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance.

Negative test results and proof of recovery

Negative tests or recovery from infection can in future also be recorded on the Corona-Warn-App or CovPass-App in the form of either a test certificate or certificate of recovery. Recovery from infection is documented by means of a PCR test result.

How is proof of vaccination verified?

If required, people who have been vaccinated can show their QR code using the app. Caterers, tour operators and other service providers who wish to check a person’s vaccination status can use a verification app to scan the vaccination certificate – similar to the barcode on a plane or train ticket. In order to verify a digital vaccination certificate, valid photo identification must also be presented.

How secure are my digital vaccination certificate data?

The security of your data is always at the forefront: When a coronavirus vaccination certificate is being generated, your data is collected only once by the vaccination centre, transmitted to the RKI for signature and then deleted there again immediately afterwards. When you upload the coronavirus vaccination certificate to the app, your personal data is only stored locally on your smartphone. The QR code solely contains the minimum amount of data according to the EU specifications. In addition, the data within the QR code is given a forgery-proof signature.

Travelling within the EU using a digital vaccination certificate

Since 1 July, there is also the digital COVID certificate of the EU. The certificate constitutes digital proof that the person in question has tested negative for or has been vaccinated against COVID-19, or has recovered from a coronavirus infection. Anyone living in the EU may be issued a certificate to present as needed. Besides Germany, other pioneers in this regard include Denmark, Greece and Croatia. In the future, travellers in possession of a digital COVID certificate will be exempt from limitations to mobility within the EU. Emerging virus variants could, however, call for exceptions.

The European Commission’s website Re-open EU provides information regarding individual European countries’ entry regulations and their progress on integrating the digital vaccination certificate. Find more information on travel during the coronavirus pandemic here.

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