Cook Islands to consider proof of Covid-19 vaccination

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Proof of Covid-19 vaccination from countries with “rampant” cases of the virus are a future consideration, says Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.

“Our travel bubble with New Zealand doesn’t require vaccination and that’s working well but of course as we go on and people start to travel more, we may consider that (proof of Covid-19 vaccination) as a requirement for people coming out of countries like India or others where Covid-19 is rampant,” Brown said.

The Prime Minister said the country is looking to extend the travel bubble with Australia and when it does it will probably not require vaccination proof.

He said both Australia and New Zealand have managed the Covid-19 situation well.

“But definitely I think proof of vaccine for those coming from other countries may be something we will consider,” Brown said.

If proof of vaccination rule is implemented, it would not differ from the Pa Enua and Rarotonga “but be consistent throughout the country”.

Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health have implemented vaccination certificates and vaccination identification cards. The certificate costs $15 (US$10) and an ID costs $50 (US$35).

Secretary of health Bob Williams said both forms of verification should be accepted overseas as vaccination proof because they are issued by the Ministry of Health.

“A few residents have already as of this week used it for their travel to countries in Europe,” Williams said on Friday.

“It’s still early days and many countries have not yet developed their vaccination certification process and each country is sovereign in deciding its own system.

“For the Cook Islands so long as the vaccination certificate is issued by an authorised officer of the Ministry of Health of another country with the vaccination details which can be verified, it can be accepted.”

Williams said the Cook Islands vaccination verification could not be forged. “The vaccination information is specific to that person only and cannot be duplicated to someone else,” he said.

In Parliament on Thursday last week, Health Minister Rose Toki-Brown said Te Marae Ora could not confirm at present if airlines would accept the vaccination appointment card, therefore the vaccination certificate and ID were created.

The Opposition Democratic Party has questioned the cost of the vaccine ID card and certificate and said it should be free.

On Thursday, Minister Toki-Brown said: “The initial fee of $50 (US$35) set for the vaccination ID card is to cover the cost for the materials, the printing and staff time to produce the ID card. It is a one-off cost.”

SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS/PACNEWS