Nova Scotia rolls out COVID-19 digital vaccine passport system

Nova Scotia’s digital vaccine passport system began on Friday.

During the lunch rush at Millstone Public House in Dartmouth, staff say it was a time-saver.

“It makes it quicker and more efficient. So far, it has been great. You just scan it, and It’s green if you’re good and red if you’re not. It’s simple as that,” said Megan Bartlett, the general manager of Millstone Public House.

Nova Scotia’s Vax Check NS app went online Friday.

The app is free to download on any smartphone or tablet and relies on QR codes that can be scanned as proof of a double dose.

Its use isn’t mandatory — but the province is pitching it as another option as bars, restaurants and gyms are tasked with only allowing entry to people who’ve been fully vaccinated. The QR code passport is also now the federal standard, which can be used for international travel.

So far, the reviews are positive.

“Seemed pretty easy. I had it up on my email already so just popped it up. They did a quick scan and now we’re about to eat,” Stephen McKellar said.

While most of the scans CTV News witnessed worked, some did not. The app wouldn’t register a screen shot of one patron’s passport or another one that was small but printed out.

Sean Morrow, a faculty member with IT Web Programming at NSCC in Truro, N.S., said there are several factors that may affect the QR reader - which in this case is a camera on a smart phone.

“Perhaps the screen shot was a bit skewed. I mean who knows,” he said.

Morrow said size of the QR code shouldn’t matter but noted if it can been crumpled up and the dots were blurred that could cause problems.

When it comes to security, Morrow said there’s a lot OF detail in those blocks of black and white. In this case, it’s the info on your vaccine passport, such as your name and date of birth. It’s not readable to the naked eye nor does it show up in the app but Morrow said it can be retrieved.

“It takes a little technical know-how but you certainly could read it and see what that data is. But like I said it’s not like it’s a SIN or anything like that,” Morrow said.

“As long as you don’t post your QR code as your status picture on Facebook or something, you’re going to be fine,” he said.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston called the app efficient and smooth.

“We’re always concerned about security of public personal information but I feel very confident in this app and I think we’ll continue to look at ways to make sure it is more and more secure,” Houston said.