grassroots vaccine ontario

New grassroots tool makes it easy to show your Ontario vaccine passport anywhere

So, you've figured out where to download your vaccine passport in Ontario, but how do you show it to staff at businesses that, as of today, can't let you in without a proof-of-vaccination receipt?

Until the government launches its own "enhanced vaccine certificate" app on October 22 (fingers crossed), you can print out a copy of your immunization record and carry your certificate with you everywhere you go.

That, or you can obtain a digital version from the province's COVID-19 booking portal (when it works) showing that you've recieved two doses.

Now comes the annoying part: Finding and displaying the file on your phone every time you want to work out, grab drinks or anything else you're now required by law to have a vaccine passport for.

Sure, you could screenshot your receipt and play the dangerous game of scrolling through your image reel for it as needed, and there are instructions online for accessing the PDF you've saved as a file to your phone — but neither of these things are convenient.

A new tool called Grassroots, developed by volunteers in Ontario, could be the stop-gap solution we all need while our goverment once again lags behind in the technology department.

"This tool converts your vaccination receipt from Ontario Ministry of Health to an Apple Wallet pass for easy access in the interim," reads the website for grassroots.vaccine-ontario.ca.

"Once Ontario's official QR code is released on Oct. 22, you will be able to update your Apple Wallet pass by visiting this site again."

It's simple to do on a phone:

First, have a copy of your vaccine receipt PDF downloaded to your mobile device. Only official copies with digital signatures downloaded from the government's website will work (sorry anti-vaxxers).

Next, press "Add to Apple Wallet" and, well, it adds a QR-enabled version of the receipt right to your Apple Wallet, making it instantly accessible any time (unless you have an Android device, in which case you can only save the document generated as a photo).

The colour-coded pass produced by the tool has a QR code that allows organizations to "verify records in a privacy-respecting way," according to one of its creators, Billy Lo. No personal information is said to be sent to the cloud.

Unfortunately, the email receipt you recieved after getting your second shot won't work with this tool, as the file needs to bear a digital certificate from the government's website for security reasons.

This will change once the province launches its own app, say the tool's creators. An Android version of the Vaccination Receipt to Wallet tool is also in development.

And the vaccine receipt to Apple Wallet conversion tool isn't the only trick this group has up its sleeves: They have released a "Vax QR code scanning website" for schools, businesses and other organizations to use for free as well.

Unlike the conversion tool, this one can be used by anyone on a mobile browser with a camera-equipped phone.

Like the people behind the popular Vaccine Hunters Twitter account, which earlier in the pandemic helped people find appointments to get vaccines, the folks behind this new tool have no commerical interests. They're simply trying to make life easier for their fellow Ontarians.

"Why have we taken time to build this?" reads the website's FAQ section. "Gives Ontarians/organizations something easy to use (volunteered-developed, unofficial) until the official provincial app comes out in October."

The group, which is comprised of Billy Lo, Ryan Slobojan, Evert Timberg, Jason Liu, Anujan Mathisekaran, Lisa Discepola, Samantha Finn and Madison Pearce, says they're all "just volunteers trying to do our part to help the community." 

Lead photo by CardMapr

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