Ministry of Health poor vaccination database slows e-certificate progress

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Digital Transformation Hassel Bacchus. File photo/ Roger Jacob

INCONSISTENCIES in the Ministry of Health’s vaccination database are one of two issues that have delayed the progress of the e-vaccination certificate.

Minister of Digital Transformation Hassel Bacchus revealed this in the Senate on Wednesday, in reply to a question on the progress of the new system.

He listed two issues that had caused the delay: the emergence of global security vulnerabilities and the need to clear up all the inconsistencies in the database.

His concerns over global security particularly focused on the vulnerability of Log4j, an open-source logging framework used by developers.

This concern has since been addressed.

“The specific software and hardware vendors have provided fixes associated with framework we work with. We have implemented those fixes and we are confident and clear that this particular threat has been addressed.”

But issues with vaccination data are yet to be resolved. He said, “If we can get to an acceptable level, as well as depending on whether or not other countries require QR-code validation type, that would push us faster…The time frame is built around our ability to finish and get it (the data) to an acceptable point. I can’t say a day, but we are making progress.”

The e-certificate contains a QR code to validate and verify the holder’s vaccination status. The information is stored in the vaccination database at the Ministry of Health. This system can be used in international travel where proof of vaccination is a requirement for entry.

Bacchus said, “It is important to secure the security and integrity of the system and the information that is contained within. There are two aspects of this: to ensure confidentiality of the personal data of the holder of the e-certificate, and to protect the certificate from attempts to illicitly forge or amend it.”

The e-certificate is being developed through a public-private partnership at no cost to the government.

The government has engaged two software companies, Singaporean company Crimson Logic and UK-based Biomed.

Crimson Logic was involved in the development of TTBiz business facilitation suite for the Ministry of Trade, and Biomed helped developed the covid19 vaccination programme ICT management system.

Bacchus said, “Following the user testing process the Biomed version of the vaccination certificate was selected for a number of reasons, including but not limited to reduced integration requirement, website independence and additional functionality.”