A temporary 'vaccine passport' scheme in Northern Ireland has received more than 4,500 applications in its first few days of operation, the Health Minister has told the Assembly.
During ministerial question time at Stormont on Monday, Robin Swann updated MLAs on efforts to produce a Covid status certificate system for international travel.
Mr Swann said his officials had been working on both a comprehensive certificate system (CCS) and an interim one to allow people from Northern Ireland to travel to countries which require proof of double vaccination for entry.
“The final CCS will take the form of a printed certificate supplemented by a mobile phone app," he advised.
“This system will provide internationally accepted proof that either the holder has received both vaccine doses at least two weeks prior to travel or has demonstrated immunity to the virus or has received a negative test in the preceding 72 hours.
“The comprehensive solution is expected to be available before July 19.”
Mr Swann added: “A second interim solution was developed in an incredibly short period of time. The service was provided after some countries unilaterally decided to require vaccine proof ahead of the EU vaccine passport scheme becoming fully functional.”
Mr Swann said that the interim certificates, which would expire on July 20, were being made available from three vaccination centres.
The scheme went live on Friday night. It is free of charge and applicants can apply online by visiting the NI Direct website.
Mr Swann said: “There has been an incredible public response. As of 1pm today there have been 4,500 applications and for 125 of those travelling today, certificates were made available from three collection points yesterday afternoon.”
The application process for the interim documentation includes cross-checking with details given when vaccine appointments were booked.
The full, internationally recognised vaccine certification system is currently being finalised and being subjected to cyber security checks.
The full system will provide certification to an agreed UK-wide format and will be fully operational when the interim arrangements expire.