I predict the Vaccine Passport scheme will be unworkable. Here is why…

The Executive has decided to introduce vaccine passports by mid-December. Whatever your views on the issue, there is a major problem in that I believe the verification process will not be able to handle the demand.

I applied for my vaccine passport on Tuesday night and the process was extremely complicated. The main issue for people seems to be getting their identity verified on NI Direct. They could not verify my identity despite me:

  • Having a full drivers license
  • Living at the same address for 10 years
  • Being on the electoral register
  • Being a ratepayer
  • Having a TV license
  • Being registered on gov.uk
  • Being on umpteen other government systems.

Even with all these they still had to identify me manually. I had to take photos of my drivers license, passport and birth certificate.

Asking on Twitter other people seemed to have similar issues:

Now to be fair my identity was verified the next day and I was able to proceed to get my vaccine certification. In total I had to:

  • Confirm my email
  • Confirm my phone number
  • Set up 2-factor authentication
  • Fill in dozens of questions
  • Take photos of several documents
  • Take several selfies
  • Hoke through my calendar and text messages to check what dates I got the vaccine.
  • Download several apps

All this took me about an hour and I am normally really fast at doing this kind of thing.

The issue is if they are expecting every adult in Northern Ireland to register on this system I don’t think it will be able to cope with the demand, especially if they need to do lots of manual verifications. I predict lots of irate callers to the Nolan Show complaining that they can’t get registered.

I am an IT Expert and if I found the process hard it is going to drive the average punter mental. No way my parents for example could ever do this process. If anyone from NI Direct is reading this I would be analysing why people are failing the automatic checks. I suspect it is something simple like the formatting of their address or rogue spaces.

I think we need to be pragmatic in implementing the passport scheme. For example, we have 100% of people over 60 vaccinated, so we could easily make this group except from having to show a passport. In reality, you would only need to target the scheme at the under 40s. But you can see the executive not wanting to be accused of agism so the rest of us will have to suffer.

They should also give non-technical people the option to have their ID verified at a local police station or government office. Even better the little card we all got after the vaccine should have had a unique QR Code that would directly have issued the certificate to the holder.

I predict the vaccine passport will be one of those nice ideas that will be quietly dropped once they realise trying to implement it is a complete pain in the neck for everyone.