Ministry of Health’s poor vaccination database slows progress of electronic certificates

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

INCONSISTENCES in the Ministry of Health’s vaccination database are one of two issues that have delayed progress on the electronic vaccination certificate.

Digital Transformation Minister Hassel Bacchus revealed this to the Senate on Wednesday, in response to a question about 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 eliminate all inconsistencies in the database.

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

This concern has since been resolved.

“Specific software and hardware vendors have provided patches associated with the framework we are working with. We have implemented these fixes and are confident and clear that this particular threat has been addressed. »

But the problems with vaccination data are not yet resolved. He said: “If we can get to an acceptable level, as well as whether or not other countries require some type of QR code validation, that would push us faster… The timeline is built around our ability to complete and get it (the data) to an acceptable point. I can’t say a day, but we are progressing.

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

Bacchus said: “It is important to ensure the security and integrity of the system and the information it contains. There are two aspects to this: to ensure the confidentiality of the personal data of the holder of the electronic certificate and to protect the certificate against attempts at falsification or illicit modification.

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

The government has contracted two software companies, Singaporean firm Crimson Logic and British firm Biomed.

Crimson Logic participated in the development of the TTBiz business facilitation suite for the Ministry of Commerce, and Biomed helped develop the ICT management system for the covid19 vaccination program.

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