Biometric Update | The head of the Yaounde international vaccination centre, a structure under the Ministry of Public Health of Cameroon, Dr. Ntsobe Njoh Bolo Bolo Yanne Emmanuel, says biometric vaccination and health cards for Cameroonian travellers have been introduced to facilitate the process of checking their vaccine status when they are getting into or out of the country.
The official told Biometric Update in an interview that the move is a novelty intended to keep Cameroon apace with other nations in terms of issuing modern and secure vaccine and digital health passes.
Dubbed ‘Pass Vac Santé’, the card with five-year validity, comes to complement the analogue ones which must first be presented at the time of obtaining the biometric version, the official says.
“This card is an innovation of the Ministry of Public Health which intends to properly secure vaccination information. With the new card, which has been validated by our health experts, we have the possibility after vaccination, to impute all information concerning the vaccinated person, to the card digitally. With a QR Code scan, you can get all the information you need about the card holder’s vaccination status,” says Ntsobe.
“It’s about two months since the card was introduced. We are in the early phase of implementation and many of the people who have obtained the biometric card, have given us positive feedback. Since the rollout started, we have already issued more than 3,000 cards. This tells us that the demand for the card looks promising, and it’s our hope that as the days go by, many more people will go for it. It’s a card that is secure and functions efficiently,” he adds.
Dr. Ntsobe said the Health Ministry already took measures before the rollout to ensure the new biometric vaccination and health pass is recognized and accepted internationally.
On how the biometric card is issued, he explains: “The process is simple. Once you get vaccinated in any international vaccination center and you want to obtain the card, your facial image and other personal information is collected. After that, you have to wait for just about 10-15 minutes, and you are issued a new secure biometric vaccination card.”
The biometric vaccination cards costs XAF 10,000 (US$15) and can be obtained not only from the Yaounde international vaccination center, but from approved centers in other cities such as Bafoussam, Douala, Ngaoundere, Garoua and Maroua, says Ntsobe. He adds that efforts are also in progress to make the card available in vaccination centers in other parts of the country such as the North West and South West Regions.
“We have had very positive feedback. For example, we had feedback from a user who recently travelled to South Africa. With just a QR Code scan, airport authorities were able to verify his vaccination status, and were impressed by the functionality of the card. We are calling on Cameroonians who want to keep their vaccination information secure to obtain this card. Wherever they find themselves when they travel, with just a scan of the card, all their vaccination information can be verified on the spot. It is a solution that makes it possible to have instant vaccination status information at any given moment concerning the card holder. It is an important card and we encourage Cameroons to have it,” he urges.
Apart from COVID, the biometric cards are available for other vaccine types often required for international travels from Cameroon such as vaccines for yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, and meningitis.
Ntsobe mentioned that technology for the production of the biometric card is provided by a Cameroonian enterprise, whose identity he chose not to disclose.
Cameroon recently began a pilot to issue 6,000 biometric refugees IDs to displaced persons from neighbouring Central African Republic.