Chris Keall: Vaccine Passes – Grief for some couples; phone line that is coping well still jammed


The rushed process for creating the My Covid Record website – where you go to register for a My Vaccine Pass – means a number of groups have been confused.

One is foreign nationals, either in NZ or about to return (more on that here).

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Another that’s featured in my inbox is couples who share the same email address – something that’s perhaps quite common in certain pre-internet demographic (my mother and my late father shared an Xtra account, for example).

Ministry of Health group manager, national digital services Michael Dreyer replied:

“An individual email account is required when requesting a My Vaccine Pass via My Covid Record because people have different dates of birth and different medical records. This is common practice with digital services.

“People who do not have an individual email account can register for their own unique email address from one of the free providers such as Gmail or Hotmail.

“Alternatively, a person can call the 0800 number and request a My Vaccine Pass, which can be emailed (to a shared email address) or posted.”

Unfortunately, the 0800 number has been another pain point.

Over the past week, the ministry has told the Herald several times that the helpline is under steady load but “coping well”.

However, I’ve tried it several times each day and have always been met with an engaged signal. My partner managed to get to the hold music earlier today, but gave up after an hour of waiting. There is no message about the length of the queue and no call-back option.

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A notice on the My Covid Record site around midday read, “We’re experiencing a higher volume of traffic than usual. If you experience problems accessing My Covid Record, try again later.”

Last week, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins raised the possibility of walk-in help centres, but there has been so far no further word on that front (the Herald has asked for more information on 0800 number wait times and staffing levels, and the possibility of walk-ins).

The Ministry of Health says it has processed 1.6 million My Vaccine Pass requests as of 9am today.

Some 4.3 million are eligible for a pass.

The Government blamed launch-day problems with My Covid Record on a cyber defence systems that mistook the surge of traffic for a DDoS attack, plus separate problems with a Microsoft Azure customer-identity-as-a-service product.

Another partner, Amazon Web Services, functioned well, the MoH said.

Tech experts canvassed by the Herald said it was not any particular vendor to blame but more the compressed timeframe. Work on the My Vaccine Pass and the various systems behind it should have begun earlier. A key contract being signed only on October 13 was too late in the piece.

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