Governments around the world have recognized the important role that simple and easily accessible vaccine certificates can play in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
The global pandemic has created the need for health information regarding vaccination that protects everyone when in public places. Around the world, paper and electronic vaccination certificates have been developed, allowing people to continue travel, enjoy restaurants, coffee houses, and the theatres – among other important services.
When the Government of Ukraine (GoU) started providing COVID-19 vaccinations, they began where most governments did – with paper-based vaccination certificates. Later, the GoU saw a need to develop digital vaccination certificates that would be fraud-protected and could be easily used by citizens in situations where vaccination status needs to be checked. The team from the Support to Ukraine’s Reforms for Governance (SURGe) project were already working with the Government to build an electronic health system, one that would ensure that the health information that Ukrainians have with their doctor is well managed, secure, and in electronic format, helping to avoid lost information. In March 2021, the SURGe team began expanding the IT system to ensure that COVID-19 vaccination information could also be included. The team implemented an IT module that would ensure a secure roll out of paper-based, WHO-compliant COVID-19 vaccination certificates. Working in cooperation with other technical projects in Ukraine, SURGe lead the work that ensured accurate electronic records of vaccination – which was an essential step in being able to create digital versions of COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
Ukraine became one of the first non-EU member states to receive recognition and join the Digital COVID-19 Certificate system. Of course, the next priority for the GoU was to ensure that digital vaccination certificates were available to citizens. Once again, the Government requested support for the development of an IT framework, allowing the GoU to manage vaccination data, citizens to access their vaccination certificates quickly and easily, and businesses to check these certificates quickly and safely.
The SURGe team focused their work on 3 main areas of improvement:
- Technical Support in implementing Ukraine’s COVID-19 certificates as per requirements of European Union (EU) Digital Green Certificates (DGC). If Ukrainians are to enjoy travel to the EU for both business and pleasure, the GoU recognized that the digital vaccination certificates would have to be compliant with EU regulations. This meant that Ukraine had to implement EU standard for DGCs within the Ukraine digital certificates. SURGe worked hand-in-hand with the EU colleagues adjusting Ukrainian requirements to ensure they met EU specifications, and continuing adjustments as the DGCs evolved.
- Development of the COVID vaccination module in the digital health records (eHealth). In order to ensure that the eHealth records would be well organized and secure, SURGe supported the Ministry of Health (MoH), ensuring integration and compliance with EU and eHealth technical and legal requirements. SURGe lead in the set-up of the infrastructure, reviewed code, tested and launched the digital certificates in the eHealth system.
- Ensuring connectivity between eHealth and other digital records in the Ukrainian system. In close cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, SURGe structured and led the development and technical launch of the eHealth module required to generate vaccination certificates.
As of July 2021, every vaccinated Ukrainian was eligible for an e-certificate and all vaccinations were tracked in the digital system. Since then, over one million vaccination certificates have been generated by Ukrainians in the system and citizens have remarked on the ease of presenting a vaccination certificate – both internationally and at home in Ukraine.