Albertans abroad unable to reach COVID-19 vaccine record

“It’s frustrating because I wouldn’t have thought I wouldn’t be able to access my updated records while I was away.”

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Albertans traveling outside Canada are unable to access the province’s website for COVID-19 vaccine records, a choice the provincial government said is designed to enhance cybersecurity.

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When trying to access the provincial Alberta COVID Records site outside Canada, a firewall blocks traffic to the page. The error page appears when trying to navigate to a web page using a non-Canadian IP address.

Alberta Health said access to the site is restricted within Canada, and Alberta will need to save its vaccine records before leaving the country.

“We are taking a cautious approach to protecting Alberta’s information against cyberattacks originating from outside Canada,” said Alberta Health spokeswoman Lisa Glover.

“IP range restrictions, which have been in place since the website’s launch on October 1, are one of many tools used to help keep public websites secure and reduce the risk of cybersecurity attacks.”

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The province’s vaccine record site produces a record of vaccinations against COVID-19, which includes a QR code when users input personal information, including their Alberta personal health number.

The QR code on the right shows the vaccination status.  The AB Covid Records Verifier app scans the code.
The QR code on the right shows the vaccination status. The AB Covid Records Verifier app scans the code. Photo by Government of Alberta

Officials updated that site November 24 to meet federal requirements for use in domestic and international air travel from December 1, but took it offline within hours after a reported privacy breach in which some people tried to access their updated document. At the time another person’s records were received. The province corrected the “technical problem” and made travel-compliance records available again on 29 November.

Postmedia spoke with several Albertans currently in the United States who were unable to access updated vaccine records.

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Before travel-compliance records were available, Colin Howison flew to Hawaii with her husband on November 27, and found he was unable to access the documents needed for their flight home the following week. He emailed the province listed for vaccine record issues, but did not receive a response.

Howison was able to contact his sister in Canada, who was able to access and forward the PDF records, but said that he wanted the province to address the issue so that other Alberts abroad were not allowed to access those documents. Don’t worry they need to fly home.

“I have our updated records now, but only because someone at home sent them to me,” he said. “This has been disappointing, as I would not have imagined that I would not be able to access my updated records while away to comply with the new requirement for travel.”

Alberta Health said its older version of the vaccine record with a QR code would also be accepted upon return to Canada. The federal government’s travel website says Canadians are always eligible to enter the country, but must meet testing requirements and mandatory quarantine if they cannot provide evidence that they are fully immunized against COVID-19.

jherring@postmedia.com

Twitter: @jasonferring

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