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Jan. 28, 2022

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Washington state quietly launches COVID vaccine verification tool

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Washington this week quietly launched a new online tool that shows proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, taking a step toward improving its verification systems as it prepares to require full vaccination or a recent negative test at all large indoor and outdoor venues on Nov. 15.

The tool, WA Verify, is fairly straightforward: Fill out your name, date of birth, contact information and a four-digit PIN number (needed to securely access digital records, the website says), and the system will text you a link to get a scannable QR code and digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination records.

The electronic record is drawn from the data stored in the state’s immunization registry, according to WA Verify’s FAQ page. Once you receive WA Verify’s QR code, you can take a screenshot and present it in restaurants, bars or other venues that require proof of immunization.

If you have an iPhone, you can save the QR code to the Apple Health app (on the newest operating system). If you have an Android phone, you can save the code to Google Pay.

To access multiple vaccination records associated with a single phone number or email address, the site instructs you to enter each digital verification record request separately.

The new system only provides copies of state vaccine records, so residents who received immunizations from a federal agency — such as the Department of Defense, Indian Health Services or Veterans Affairs — must contact that agency for help, the site says.

WA Verify was developed by the state Department of Health’s Office of Innovation, a DOH spokesperson said Thursday. The department will announce an official launch “in the near future,” he said.

“We want this to be something easy and accessible for Washingtonians, and we expect to have more to share about this very soon,” Lacy Fehrenbach, DOH’s deputy secretary for COVID-19 response, said during a news conference Thursday.

The state has previously used online tools like MyIR and MyIR Mobile to help Washingtonians provide digital proofs of vaccination, but residents have reported on-and-off issues and delays with the sites, particularly in June when the system was inundated with requests to enter the state’s vaccine lottery.

The state’s new tool comes as King County’s vaccination verification requirement goes into effect this week, which has gotten mixed reviews from restaurant and bar owners.

According to the mandate, which took effect Monday, patrons must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to dine inside of bars and restaurants, to work out in gyms, and to enjoy indoor entertainment venues such as theaters and museums in King County.

The new rule also applies to conferences and conventions, and any large outdoor gatherings with more than 500 people — though children under age 12, who aren’t yet eligible for a vaccine, are exempt.

Gov. Jay Inslee said during the Thursday news conference that while the state has decided not to implement the vaccine verification requirement at restaurants and bars statewide at this time, his office is “looking at the experience of King County to see if it’s positive and we’ll continue to monitor that situation.”

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