Make use of vaccination certificates easier to bring back social activities

The use of proof of vaccination is important for promoting vaccinations against the novel coronavirus and easing restrictions on social and economic activities. The central and local governments need to devise ways to spread the use of vaccination certificates and make the system take root.

The central government has been conducting a demonstration test to ease restrictions on people who have vaccination certificates or proof of a negative test result.

At professional baseball games and J.League soccer matches, seating areas were prepared for those who have such certificates, and surveys have been carried out as to whether the risk of infections can be contained even if the number of spectators is increased.

Similar surveys were conducted at other events, such as the Awa Odori street dancing festival in Tokushima Prefecture. It is important to create an environment in which regulations can be eased by using vaccination certificates in various situations.

Earlier this month, the Tokyo metropolitan government started operating an app that allows people to certify the completion of vaccinations on their smartphone screens. When a user sends photos of their vaccination record and identification document through the free communication app LINE, the smartphone screen displays “Registered.”

Customers can receive discounts and other services by showing this registration screen at stores that participate in the program. Dining establishments, which have been required to serve no more than four people per table, can now serve five or more if diners show the registration screen.

Currently, the app is aimed at residents of Tokyo, but the metropolitan government plans to include people who commute to offices and schools in Tokyo. It is understandable that the program is aimed at increasing the vaccination rate by using a smartphone app — a medium that people in younger generations are familiar with. Similar apps are being developed one after another.

Meanwhile, many prefectures — including Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, which have cooperated with the Tokyo metropolitan government on antivirus measures — are using paper certificates.

App-based certificates and paper ones may continue to coexist. The central and local governments should devise ways not to differentiate their roles as vaccination certificates, regardless of which one users utilize.

The central government is developing an app that serves as a public certificate that can also be used when traveling abroad. It is expected to begin operation by the end of this year.

If the new app had been developed a little earlier, it could have been used in the demonstration experiment. In that case, there would have been no need for local governments to develop their own apps.

In Europe, some countries require people to present vaccination certificates when using public transportation systems, entering dining establishments or attending events, among other occasions, and impose fines on violators.

In Japan, such compulsory measures may not be easily accepted. The use of vaccination certificates is basically on a voluntary basis.

All the more because of that, the Japanese central and local governments must establish a system for vaccination certification that is easy to use, for individuals and businesses alike.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Nov. 12, 2021.