That COVID vaccination card QR Code oversight has come to bite Zimbabweans according to a report by NewsDay which said that port authorities in South Africa and Kenya were calling them fake after scanning the code and getting an error.
“I faced difficulties crossing the border when I travelled to Kenya. The authorities said they could not recognise my vaccination card due to the blank QR code. My lucky break only came with the mounting pressure of people wanting to cross, therefore, we were finally rushed through,”Tracy Chapwanya (via NewsDay)
This is something we wrote about last year when Zimbos on Twitter were reporting that they were getting a QR Code not found error when they tried to scan their QR codes with their mobile devices. This major flaw in what should have been done at the point of vaccination is now inconveniencing Zimbabweans when they travel abroad. To make matters worse those who got vaccinated early were given cards that didn’t have the QR Code and had to go back to their COVID vaccination centre and get the new ones with the security measure.
You can hear us rant about this subject on the latest episode of our podcast. You can download can play or download the episode with the player below. Alternatively, access the episode with the link here
Worse still Zimbabweans are reportedly paying bribes in SA when their cards are scanned and the “QR Code not found” error pops up.
The unfortunate thing with all of this is that the cases presented might be a fraction of those that went unreported. We can complain about it as much as we would like (and we did in the podcast above) but what matters most now is how you can activate your card in the event that you need to travel.
How to log your info at the Ministry of Health
You’ll need to make your way to the Ministry of Health which is at the Kaguvi Building, 4th Floor, Central Avenue (Between 4th and 5th Street). Before you set off you will, of course, need to take your COVID-19 Vaccination Card (that has a QR Code, if you don’t have one you’ll need to go back to where you were vaccinated to acquire one) with you as well as any national identification document like an ID, passport or driver’s licence.
One of our colleagues went through the process yesterday (19/04/2022) and they said that the process doesn’t take all that long, about a couple of hours depending on how long the queue is. But to be safe you should get there early (around 8 am). Parking is another thing, because from what we were told it can get pretty full there so you’ll need to carry ZWL$150 (1 hr) or ZWL$300 (2 hrs) for parking, again depending on the length of the queue.
Once you have stated your purpose you’ll be given a number that marks your position in the line. The process is not all that complicated because they will essentially enter the details on your card into the database and scan your card to link the information.
After that is all done you should test your QR Code just to be sure (you will need internet). If everything is all green then you’ll be redirected to a page that displays your information.
This process should have been decentralised ages ago…
All of this, as alluded to earlier on, could have been done at the point of vaccination. There is the argument that what was important at the time was that people should get vaccinated but the authorities should have been aware of the fact that Zimbabweans travel for various reasons and all provisions should have been made to make sure that no one is left in a difficult position when they get to wherever it is they are going.
On that note Ministry of Health Secretary, Jasper Chimedza said that they have begun the process of decentralising the activation process for travellers. This doesn’t inspire confidence because whenever something is said by a government ministry that it is still in its infancy, there might be some ways to go before we see it. Ultimately it’s beating a dead horse on my part because this is something they should have baked into the process at its inception.
Why we always have to wait for glitches in the matrix before something is tended is honestly confusing. Moreover, will the lessons of this error be noted down by the Ministry of Health for their future endeavours? It’s all well and good to try and put out a fire but there should be systemic changes that will make sure that the downstream effects of any policy are thoroughly thought through before rolling out.
Lastly, there is the point of compensation… The activation of the COVID Vaccination Card QR Codes is something that should have been communicated until it became a jingle. I say this because who knows how this oversight adversely affected Zimbabweans as they travelled beyond what has been reported.
Imagine missing out on a meeting or an opportunity because you were none-the-wiser about the next step after your vaccination. Things like that need compensation because there was a Ministry that should have made it clear to locals about what they needed in order to face the least inconvenience as they travelled…
Cover Image Credit: AfricaNews