The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) has digitised the country’s COVID-19 vaccine roll out, and citizens will be able to register for their vaccines on line starting this week. The digitisation, which will ensure a streamlined delivery of the preventive inoculations, currently being administered by state health services, was put together by the Agency, on a direct request by President Gotabaya Rajapakasa.
“The COVID-19 pandemic took the entire world by surprise in the early part of last year. Developed and less developed countries faced the brunt of it in equal measure. If this has taught us one thing, it is that our physical borders cannot protect us when we face an enemy of this nature. Whilst isolations and lockdowns can help to slow down the spread, the final solution that can close the door to the pandemic, would be a proper vaccination programme. To this end, what ICTA is doing today is an important part of easing the process,” says Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Sports & Youth Affairs.
The Ministry of Health, and medical informatics staff, has closely supported ICTA in developing the online software, which enables citizens to register for their vaccines. The system is now linked with the electoral registry database, which will facilitate information for all above the age of 18.
ICTA says the data collected by ICTA is completely secure, ensuring data privacy. Information collected will be released strictly to authorised medical staff. Apart from prepping for vaccines, the relevant medical staff will be able to use the data for research purposes, such as making inferences on how diseases correlate, so that they can find the best solutions for infected patients.
“The Agency is fully cognisant of the need for data security and we have taken every measure to ensure privacy. The digitisation will facilitate a transparent process which will follow policies and regulations of the government with regard to who gets the vaccine and the location where they would receive it. This will be done in coordination with the Health Ministry and allied institutions like the MOH and Gramasevaka divisions. The digitised programme is vital not only in smoothing out the process of inoculating the population but also in collecting vital data regarding individuals’ health conditions for any follow up action that may be necessary in the future,” ICTA Chairman Lalith Gamage says.
The digitisation process will help in tracking the vaccines belonging to different pharmaceutical companies, which will help community health sectors understand the efficacy levels of each vaccine for long term follow up action in the event it becomes necessary.
Jayantha de Silva, Secretary to the Ministry of Information Technology says, the Ministry is invested in this initiative by ICTA. “We are working closely with ICTA in this endeavour and believe that the data gathered from this exercise will help the public. The government will be issuing a recognised certificate to all citizens who complete the vaccine programme i.e. the first and second inoculations. The internationally recognised certificate will act as a passport for those who wish to travel overseas once it becomes feasible.”
The ICTA Chairman adds their software will help the government streamline the programme, and distribute the vaccine to all transparently. “Through this system we will enable everyone to take the vaccine by prior appointment and the distribution will be done transparently. This will not only be a convenience for the public and health officials but will also help prevent the spread of the disease by eliminating the need for mass congregations of people and long queues.”
Last year ICTA supported another COVID-19 safety measure with the launch of ‘Stay Safe,’ a QR Code system to support the public enter their personal details via their mobile devices when going to supermarkets, malls, hospitals, offices or any other organisation. Simultaneously, this helps organisations gather information accurately and safely on those who enter and leave their premises and allows for easy contact tracing in case of an infectious outbreak.
With the digitisation of the vaccine rollout ICTA has smoothened the process to the extent where all citizens over the age of 18 will receive the vaccine with ease. Dates, Times and vaccination centers for the different areas will be announced in the media with links to the ICTA website where people can register for their inoculations. On registering they will get an appointed time along with a code to be presented at their respective vaccination centers, enabling them to get vaccinated directly without having to endure queues. On completing both vaccines, they will be issued with a government certified internationally recognised certificate, bearing a QR code which confirms its authenticity.