Update: On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the province said the printable card would not be available until Sunday, Sept. 19.
Albertans will be able to print off a card-sized copy of their COVID-19 vaccination record later this week.
Starting on Thursday, Sept. 16, a convenient card-sized printout will be available through MyHealth Records. Those who have been vaccinated will also be able to show their record on their phone or tablet.
“We continue to make it easier for Albertans to securely access their health information, including immunization records, in the palm of their hand any time and anywhere through MyHealth Records,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a news release.
“More Albertans are signing up for this tool every day to access their health information, and if you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to sign up now.”
Work is also underway to make proof of vaccination available through a QR code, which the province said will provide Albertans with an easier, faster and more secure way to share their immunization record when needed. The QR code is expected to be available in the coming weeks, the province said in a news release Tuesday morning.
The paper printout isn’t a so-called “vaccine passport,” but Albertans will be able to show the card where establishments require proof of vaccination to enter.
For several hours on Tuesday afternoon and evening, the virtual wait time to access MyHealth Records was over an hour long.
In a news release announcing the immunization card, the province warned that the website could experience “high traffic volume before major events and long weekends” and advised Albertans to “plan ahead and save their proof of vaccination card on their phone or print it out before the needed date.”
In an email, an Alberta Health spokesperson said AHS “increased the server capacity of MyHealth Records due to high interest in this online tool and app.
“The support line hours have also been extended,” Amanda Krumins said.
The wait queue was “paused for brief periods due to high volume of traffic and to make technical adjustments and the technical team is “working to minimize any further pauses,” she added.
Krumins said there is “more than adequate server space,” but AHS is “working through some maintenance necessary to ensure Albertans have timely access to the MyHealth Records by Sept. 16.”
Several establishments and events, including restaurants, bars, personal services businesses, sporting events and concerts in Alberta have implemented their own policies that require people be fully immunized against COVID-19 to enter.
The government has stopped short of implementing a province-wide vaccine mandate to enter non-essential businesses, despite calls as recent as Monday from physicians and Alberta businesses.
In a letter to the premier Monday, 65 infectious diseases physicians from across Alberta called for immediate province-wide restrictions of access to indoor non-essential businesses and services for people who are not immunized against COVID-19.
A poll released Monday by the Edmonton and Calgary chambers of commerce also suggested the majority of Alberta businesses supported the idea of a provincially mandated vaccine passport system.
When asked for a response to the letter urging the immediate implementation of a vaccine passport system Monday, a spokesperson for the minister of health pointed to Shandro’s comments on the issue from Sept. 9.
“It’s not an easy answer,” he said. “I think that’s why the largest employer in the province — AHS — has moved forward in showing that leadership and what other workplaces can do… The steps that they’ve taken for requiring vaccines, the same as they require already for the workforce to have vaccines for measles and other communicable diseases.”
Shandro also noted the province has made recommendations to unvaccinated Albertans to limit household contacts.
“We are continuing to look at other ways in which we can continue to increase our vaccination rates in Alberta and other ways in which those who are unvaccinated are putting themselves at risk and a significant amount of them ending up in our acute care system and putting pressure on AHS,” Shandro said.
“We’ll continue to look at that evidence and what options we have available to us.”
Several other provinces in Canada, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, have announced vaccine passport systems for non-essential services.
MyHealth Records is accessible online tool that lets Albertans 14 years of age or older see some of their health information. It can be accessed through an internet browser or downloadable app.
COVID-19 immunization records have been available through the tool since December 2020.
The province said more than 110,000 Albertans have created their MyHealth Records accounts in the last three weeks alone. There are currently 910,000 total users of the system.
For more information on signing up for an account, visit the province’s website.
With files from Emily Mertz, Global News.
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