New Canadians are having trouble accessing their COVID-19 vaccine records online, a requirement for downloading and installing Newfoundland and Labrador's new vaccine passport.
The passport is necessary for anyone wanting to attend non-essential recreational activities, some businesses and public spaces. Passports will be mandatory starting Friday. A printed version of the QR code will also work.
But for some, such as Fakhri Matar, it's been a struggle to access vaccine records without an MCP number. He's been living in the province for eight years, and is eligible for an MCP card but has experienced regular holdups, he said.
"For the last couple of years I've had the biggest issue trying to get my MCP, trying to get my health insurance in order, simply because of always having some hurdle to have to jump through," Matar told CBC News.
"I'm caught up in logistics, I guess. It's just the state of affairs right now that I cannot get it simply because I'm waiting for renewal of paperwork, and as such I currently cannot get the vaccine passport."
The Department of Health told CBC News in an emailed statement that a valid MCP number is required to get a COVID-19 vaccination record QR code
The department said if someone was vaccinated in Newfoundland and Labrador but does not have an MCP number, the immunization record — the paper document given to patients after receiving a vaccine dose — is considered "your official vaccination record and can be used to show proof of vaccination."
"If you no longer have that form, please contact your vaccine provider," said the Department of Health.
Matar said that when he received his vaccination, a nurse told him he wouldn't need to keep the paper record and he would be able to access his records online.
"As a person who lives in this generation, of course I know how to do that. So I went through the online channels, I wanted to get my vaccine record so I could apply for my vaccine passport," he said.
"The first issue is the fact is I cannot access my record at all at the moment simply because I don't have an MCP number."
Access to information
The Health Department says a person who received their COVID-19 vaccine in a pharmacy or physician's office can contact the office where they received the vaccine. If a person received their vaccine in a regional health authority immunization clinic they should contact their regional health authority or local public health office.
But finding the necessary information is also a difficult task, according to Maria Dussan, chair of the Healthcare for All campaign organized by the Anti-Racism Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador.
She said government websites are unclear and helpline representatives don't have immediate answers. She said people are on wait-lists waiting to get a call back.
"There's a huge gap in information from the government websites where people are trying to find what is the alternative when they are vaccinated but they do not have access to the vaccine passport because they do not have access to a valid MCP number," she said.
"What we're seeing is people trying to scramble for information."
Dussan said the important information isn't circulating widely enough, and there's fear from those who are vaccinated on how freely they'll be able to move throughout their communities without being questioned.