People who have repeatedly failed to download their vaccine certificate, and whose travel plans have even been disrupted as a result, have complained about the inconvenience, saying the situation did not inspire confidence in Malta’s launch of an EU COVID passport next month.
But asked about the nature of the problems and when they would be resolved, the health ministry simply said that “in some cases, verification of data supplied needs to occur to ensure that all information related to the vaccine brand, dates and batch number are correct”.
It ensured that the process was being handled by a dedicated team, pointing out that, to date, more than 86,000 certificates have been downloaded by fully vaccinated individuals – up from 60,000 last Thursday.
This means that only about 40 per cent of those eligible have their certificate in hand, based on the number of fully vaccinated people as at June 1 – 210,486 – allowing for the mandatory two weeks after getting the jab.
Five days of frustration
The figure was of no consolation to Patrick Pace, whose day trip to Sicily was mired in confusion and who wanted to warn others about his experience.
Prior to his trip, Pace was faced with an “error” each time he tried to download his vaccine certificate, required to get back into Malta. When he called the 145 helpline he was told that “they were aware of the problem and were working on it”.
Five days later, he still could not download his certificate, following e-mails, calls and “no action”.
Meanwhile, he had to convince the port authorities at Pozzallo that he had no certificate to be able to board the vessel because the government system was not working as he demonstrated the technical issue on his phone.
“The carabiniere told me they could not hold me back on that basis and that I was not the only one to present that same problem,” Pace said.
Once in Malta, tensions rose as he refused to be tested on payment as requested and an argument ensued.
Eventually, he was allowed entry on condition that he would send in his certificate once downloaded.
Only about 40 per cent of those eligible have their certificate in hand
A cancelled trip
In the case of Bertus Zuijdgeest, who resides in Żebbuġ, he and his wife, fully vaccinated by April, had to cancel a trip to Italy booked for June 10.
But it was not so much the loss of a holiday that was “irritating” him... more the fact that “the government is boasting that everything is fine when it is not”.
Running through the motions, Zuijdgeest said that if no certificate is generated, a pop-up window asks for an e-mail to be sent to email@example.com.
Following unsuccessful attempts with his e-ID, he submitted the requested details on June 2 but has received no acknowledgement and feedback since.
Zuijdgeest’s calls to 145 were met with standard replies, telling him the system had several issues, that they were inundated with thousands of e-mail requests and were not in a position to say when the problems would be fixed.
Twelve days after submitting his details, he is still in the dark. Also, the possibility of doing a PCR test from his holiday destination, which would substitute the need for a certificate, proved complicated and unfeasible due to location and timing.
Taking a PCR test on return and paying for this and quarantine would amount to around €400 for two people, he said, adding that the prospect was “not enticing”.
Time wasted due to 'long backlog'
iGaming consultant Marek M. Czekalla also had a bone to pick with the health authorities, saying he, too, could not download the certificate and kept being told by the system that the data did not match.
Saying he has heard of many similar problems, Czekalla could “only presume some data was inputted wrongly in the certificate system”. Expressing frustration, he said he called 145 and was asked to send an e-mail but this has remained unanswered for the past two weeks.
He also visited a servizz.gov centre and was told that the only thing he could do was open a case.
Czekalla was informed of a “long backlog” with no end in sight and questioned whether the system would work when the country linked up to the EU vaccine certificates from July 1.
Malta’s certificate is currently only recognised in the island and travellers cannot use it as proof of vaccination when travelling overseas.
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