People who have been vaccinated in Europe and at Walmart or CVS outlets in the United States are among those who now can avail of the Cayman Islands’ five-day quarantine option, as the islands expand the list of countries from which to accept securely verifiable vaccination records.

As of Friday, 23 July, travellers who have been vaccinated in certain American states or at specific US and Canadian health providers or pharmacies, as well as in European Union countries, have been included on the expanded list.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness announced the new list late Monday afternoon, stating that Cayman authorities now had the technological capability to scan QR codes to securely verify vaccination records from some issuers in North America, the EU, and others. QR codes are electronic data, similar to a barcode, which can be displayed on a smart phone or by presenting a physical paper copy.

The expanded list of systems and countries from which vaccination records can be securely verified now includes:

  • Issuers who use SMART Health Cards and are a part of the CommonTrust Network. This includes North American issuers, such as:
    • Walmart Pharmacy
    • Sam’s Club Pharmacy
    • State of California
    • State of Louisiana
    • UC San Diego Health
    • CVS Health
    • UC Health
  • Vaccination records from EU member states and other countries that meet the EU Digital COVID Certificate standard.

In a statement, the Cayman government said it “anticipates that the approved list will continue to grow as other vaccination issuers develop ways to produce securely verifiable vaccination records”.

- Advertisement -

Up to 23 July, only incoming travellers who had been vaccinated in Cayman or in the United Kingdom were eligible for the five-day quarantine, while people vaccinated elsewhere were required to quarantine for 10 days.

Unvaccinated arrivals are still required to isolate for 14 days.

Premier Wayne Panton had stated earlier Monday, on Radio Cayman’s For the Record talk show, that Cayman now had the capability to read the SMART Health Cards.

The US-based non-profit Commons Project Foundation released the SMART Health Card verifier app earlier this month, which enables users to scan a code to verify a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status. The app can determine if the issuer of the vaccination certificate is a verified health data source found in the CommonTrust Network – a registry of testing providers, vaccination providers and public health registries set up by the Commons Project Foundation – which is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The app displays the issuer name, vaccine type, dates of vaccine doses, and name and date of birth of vaccine recipient, according to a press release from the Commons Project Foundation. The release noted that additional states and pharmacy chains and healthcare providers are expected to begin issuing the cards to their patients in the coming weeks.

Explaining why Cayman was being cautious about its acceptance of vaccination documentation, Panton said EU and UK governments were issuing digital or paper vaccinations certificates that are difficult to counterfeit, but “not so in the US”.

Premier Wayne Panton. – Photo: GIS

He acknowledged that Cayman’s own vaccination documentation was “not that great either”, but said it can be verified locally and that the government was in the process of developing an app that could demonstrate the validity of the certificates to international agencies.

“The versions issued in the US are easily faked,” he said. “They have had a significant number of people faking these things and being prosecuted for having done so because the consequences are significant.”

He added that there was an incentive for people in the US to fake the certificates because it would mean shorter quarantine periods when travelling, and would allow them access to certain areas and venues if they can show they have been vaccinated.

In May, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that vaccinated people could move around more freely and without masks.

A number of venues in the US are allowing only vaccinated individuals to enter. For example, Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show will only sell tickets to vaccinated patrons and some baseball stadiums are selling tickets to ‘vaccinated only’ sections. Ahead of this weekend’s Lollapalooza concert in Chicago, the FBI reminded residents that using a fraudulent COVID vaccine card to get into the music festival is illegal.

Offers of fraudulent vaccine cards have appeared on major online retailers such as Amazon, Ebay and Shopify, as well as on Craigslist, according to several US media reports.

Regarding the SMART Health Cards, Panton said, “We are in a position where we are now able to significantly improve our ability to read and verify American-done vaccinations. That is going to be critical for us.”

He added that Cayman wanted incoming tourists to be vaccinated, and those who are not will continue to be required to quarantine for 14 days. He said the recent news that two incoming vaccinated travellers had been infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19 was a reminder of how important it is to ensure that fake certificates do not get through.

Those two travellers had received both their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Cayman, so after they flew back to Grand Cayman from Miami, they had undergone a five-day quarantine. They were found positive for the virus when they underwent a PCR test on their last scheduled day in isolation.

Panton said, hypothetically, if those individuals had arrived on island with fake vaccination certificates, and if the virus was still incubating and had not shown up on an exit PCR test, that would have meant that Cayman would have been greatly at risk of community transmission of the Delta variant.

Read the Ministry of Health press release here.

More information on the verifiable vaccination certificates can be found here.

- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now

34 COMMENTS

  1. This fake vaccination card thing is the figment of someone’s imagination and Caymanians should be embarrassed that their government is propagating this nonsense. By the way why is my vaccination at Walgreens not accepted, yet someone else who got vaccinated at Walmart is good to go? We were on the verge of buying property in Cayman in 2019 and WOW we are so happy we didn’t. We will enjoy our holidays and other tourism elsewhere in the Caribbean.

    • 100% agree with you! We’ve been going to Grand Cayman for over 30 years and thought of purchasing property there. In the beginning I was hesitant to get the vaccine due to conflicting information but knew I would need it to travel to Cayman when they reopened. So my husband and I got the Moderna at our Local Publix Pharmacy. Now to find out, that we didn’t get vaccinated at the right pharmacy or live in California or Louisiana, and therefore can’t travel to Grand Cayman, is ridiculous! I called Publix Corporation and they haven’t heard of this digital health card nor have any plans in the future to make one available. Moving forward we will be traveling to other Carribean Islands that will accept our proof of vaccination.

  2. Seriously,
    My wife & I were vaccinated at The Jackson Memorial system in Miami-Dade County and we we are excluded. We were vaccinated in the county government system. What is the “verifiable” difference?

  3. So Cayman admitted two travellers that had received Both doses of vaccine, in Cayman, and everything was verifiable, yet they still ended up testing positive.

    Doesn’t that tell you that no matter how rigorous your rules and policies are, there are always going to be Positive cases. Not severe cases requiring hospitalization, but Positive, nonetheless.

    We must learn to live with this virus. It isn’t going away anytime soon.

  4. What about Canada? We have receipts from the government…the Province of Ontario…that confirms our vaccination date, where it was given, the type of vaccine given & more….but it’s not a QR code. When will I get to visit family who live in Cayman without quarantine? Haven’t seen them in two years! Please change this policy! Thank you.

  5. We need to return to normalcy and stop testing and stop quarantining visitors. Yes, there will be a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” SO GO GET VACCINATED and let’s put this thing behind us and get on with life.

  6. The PM states “The versions issued in the US are easily faked,” he said. “They have had a significant number of people faking these things and being prosecuted for having done so because the consequences are significant.”

    This is utter nonsense and not factual at all. The PM is spreading lies to try and justify a nonsensical position his government is taking on vaccine documentation. I received my vaccine at a state run, managed and monitored facility, they were in total control. I hold a card and official certificate from that state. Isn’t a state government more reliable than CVS or Walmart? Not in the Caymans. The lies by government continue to hurt the economy and people of Cayman and with arbitrary actions such as this will do so for a long time

  7. We decided not to come to Cayman because of the 10 day quarantine even being vaccinated of all places at a CVS! NOW, CVS is ok. Also we were told we could not ride up the elevator when we got to the condo to quarantine, we would have to walk up the stairs, this is a new thing, back in January although not being vaccinated it was ok to do so??? I even asked if someone could bring our luggage up in the elevator and leave them outside our door? They said no, the luggage could not go up the elevator either because the luggage could be contaminated!!!
    I’ll see you when their is no quarantine! Cayman stop drinking the KOOL-AID!!!

    • Vicente P – this is insane! You were told you could not ride up in the elevator and your luggage could not be in the elevator because it might be contaminated? Seriously we know so much more now than we did 18 months ago and it is clear the virus is not often spread by surface contamination. Holy Cow – drinking the KOOL-AID is right!

  8. The Premier & CMO have a laudable concern, but RIGHT NOW, technology is not there to support their goal in order to reopen in 2021. This effort, like the reopening, needs to be phased-in as technology fills in the gaps.

    The USA had a fragmented distribution of vaccine starting Dec ’20… only front-liners through hospitals, Veterans Administration and the Military… then the US engaged pharmacies to jab 80 yr olds and older (and visit nursing homes)— when that slowed down, and Biden took over… each US State Health Department took over the vaccination of 65 and older… and pulled the vaccine supplies back from the pharmacies. Not until April did many of the pharmacies get supplies again.

    The bulk of US 40 yr olds and older ( who also are our demographic for tourism, especially on the east coast)… were vaccinated by State programs. It was more important at that point to get jabs in arms than it was to build a digital vaccination system…. get fish in the boat and then count them later. Lives were at stake.

    So only now, are the US states looking at (private) Apps for digital verification. It will happen… but not in time for a September 9 reopen date… just like Cayman’s HSA cards can’t be verified by some countries either (right now). It will all happen, but the tourism industry just can’t miss another holiday season. If this doesn’t get settled soon, all of the airline, accommodation, restaurant, water-sports and rental car reservations will cancel in an avalanche and result in financial chaos.

    Raise the fine to $50,000 and 5 years in prison. But all seven of the G-7 countries respect and honor the original paper Vaccine Card that we all received after stressing for weeks in order to get the jab as quickly as we could.

    Honestly; for a country whose GDP relies so much on the (portable) financial sector and is trying to get itself off the “Gray List” with the G7 & G20 nations… does Cayman need the publicity that the new Premier will not honor USA (85% of tourism) vaccination cards?

    • “…the tourism industry just can’t miss another holiday season. If this doesn’t get settled soon, all of the airline, accommodation, restaurant, water-sports and rental car reservations will cancel in an avalanche and result in financial chaos.” Jim L you are completely correct in your observation!

      I hope you are correct about private companies developing apps for digital vaccine verification. The problem I see is how those of us with CDC vaccine cards will actually prove our cards are legitimate when we enter the information in the app. I don’t think Texas (my home state) has any record of all of the people vaccinated during the initial push to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

  9. This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard. Insurance providers were giving vaccines at hospitals, stadiums, etc. However we received a vaccination card and it was registered with the CDC. There is no rhyme or reason with their opening requirements!

  10. Respectfully Mr Panton, please support this outrageous claim with some examples: “The versions issued in the US are easily faked,” he said. “They have had a significant number of people faking these things and being prosecuted for having done so because the consequences are significant.” This nothing more than the CIG spreading fear and nonsense.

    As a US citizen that has been through your 14 day quarantine procedure and all the hassles associated with travel to Cayman while being fully vaccinated I am both offended and outraged. As a homeowner for over 20 years I will not return until you recognize my vaccination that I received, along with millions of other US citizens at hospital vaccination clinics, in order to travel and more importantly protect MY community. I will be spending my tourism dollars elsewhere while you hide in your little bubble.

  11. Dear Premier Panton,
    As a Cayman property owner since 1996, my husband and I scheduled our Covid vaccines as soon as we could since we were sure that Cayman would require the vaccine to enter. Our two shots were completed by March 11, 2021, one person through Publix in Florida and the other through a NJ Govt site. We had no clue that you would not accept our vaccines!
    We have carried Cayman businesses( CUC, Cayman Water, Insurance, Cable, Pest Control, maid services, telephone, etc) since the shutdown and still cannot enter without a quarantine.
    Why don’t you gazette a law with stiff penalties ($10,000CI fine, 6 months in jail and banded from Cayman for life) for any idiot who would present a fake vaccine card?
    Come on and let on on island without a quarantine!
    Kalena427.

  12. The fake vaccination issue should definitely be of concern Cayman!!
    Many people in the US are acting like they are vaccinated just to avoid having to wear a mask where they are still being required for unvaccinated individuals. These same people will surely go to any length to be able to travel if that is their desire.

    Stay strong Cayman and don’t trust all Americans. There are still many that are trustworthy but sadly there are still many that are not. Every day rules are being broken and laws ignored here in the US. Ethics and morals no longer exist for some. You are correct to be cautious!!!

    • The USA has no way to verify Cayman HSA Vaccine Cards and yet they still respect & honor the HSA card to avoid quarantine and admit entry to the USA.

      I would assert that there is a more acute desire for Cayman Residents to visit family, catch a connecting plane, obtain healthcare or go shopping in the USA than there is for an American to just go on a week vacation in the Caribbean. The Americans also can go to ANY of a dozen islands and incur less hassle, suspicion and expense and actually be welcomed by an immigration officer with a smile.

      So who do you think is more likely to forge a vaccination card?

      Can someone please define “Caymankind” for me? Not feeling it.

    • With all due respect, you are being ridiculous. There is virtually no where in the US that is requiring a vaccination card. Why would people fake them? They have not been good for any international travel, you still need to produce negative Covid test to get on planes. I am all for Cayman requiring them upon entry. It’s a good idea. But there are hundreds of places in the US that have offered them. Clinics, doctors, stadiums, pharmacies. Pop up tents. How can all of that be verified? But Walgreens and CVS are okay? Incredible. How is Cayman ever going to get on track. They needed a plan months ago and this is it? Pathetic.

  13. We purchased in Cayman in 2018. We were leasing our unit back to the sellers. When COVID hit we let them out of their lease. He is a contractor, she a dr on island. Both were not able to work so we let them out of their lease thinking we would rent our unit out. Not only can we not visit but no one else either. We have been vaccinated for over 3 months. We got ours at a county wide program in Wyoming. This is not on Caymans list. What a bunch of fools. So if I had gone to Walmart I’d be fine but not a government facility???

  14. The Cayman vaccination card is just a piece of cardboard which can easily be faked.
    The EU vaccination certificate carries a QR code which takes 5 seconds to scan and authenticate. This is not “new technology”that Cayman has just received. It has been available for at least 2 months and we provided this app’ and the contents of a typical Covid certificate with QR code as long ago as the end of June, before coming to Cayman. We also demonstrated the app on our vaccination certificates on arrival in Cayman and spoke with TravelCayman after our arrival about our vaccination certificates and ability to authenticate them.

    Sac recently as 1 week ago we were told that our vaccination certificates were not acceptable for 5 day quarantine.To now learn that the Cayman now have the ability to authenticate EU vaccinations is a slap in the face.

  15. I live in Indiana and Cayman is my #1 vacation destination. My state has all vaccinated reesidents in the Indiana State Board of Health database that I can look up anytime with my name, date of birth, and SS#. It is unfortunate that this is not enough to travel here. I literally can pull up the verified State website on my phone and show my vaccination status, by dates and type. I will now be traveling to another Caribbean country this year and probably going forward. It is very unfortunate as I know several of my favorite places and vendors in Cayman have already permanently closed because of this.

  16. Well it’s a start (I give them credit for that) but it will still be an ad-hoc patchwork system in the U.S. for some time. My wife and I were vaccinated in two different places through two different systems. I suspect that one of us will be able to get a CI acceptable QR code long before the other.

    Them defiantly sticking to the 80% is a separate issue. According to CC’s vaccine tracker it took about a week to get another 1% (66%-67%). At that rate, which everyone knows is not sustainable, they will not get to 80% until sometime in November. Realistically next year before the CIG will move out of this current phase of reopening.

    We’ve resigned ourselves to just wait it out. This won’t last forever.

  17. I understand cayman is trying to protect their people but at the rate they are going they will never open up. Up until Oct everyone has to be quarantined for 5 ,10 or 15 days. Tourists are not going to quarantine so why not let property owners who are vaccinated come in until Oct with vaccine cards and quarantine for 5 days. This will allow a large number of retired owners of properties in Cayman to come in and check their properties and add some revenue to your economy. It will also allow u time to find a way to verify vaccination cards for when you open up without quarantine. We were vaccinated at a top hospital in Texas long before CVS,Walmart and Sams offered vaccines which wasn’t till April. We also flew to Cayman in January and quarantined for 15 days so we could check our properties and I dont wish to quarantine for that long again. Two of our family had vaccines from CVS in April and there is nothing official looking on their cards. At the rate vaccines are going I don’t see Cayman getting 80 % of your people vaccinated by Oct. The unvaccinated are holding you hostage from opening up.
    Our family of 10 vacationed on Grand Turk in early July and spent our dollars there as we couldnt get to our condo on SMB. Lastly it is becoming upsetting that we have continued to pay our staff at condos along SMB for the past 18 months when we still can’t get in without a long quarantine even though vaccinated. We hope and pray that you can find a way for us all to return to the island we love and want to support.

    • I feel the same way but I would bet the farm that Cayman could be tourist free for another year. For them to walk back their 80% target would (in their eyes) make them look bad. It’s never going to happen. There will always be a small defiant group who will not get vaccinated and could care less if tourists ever come to the island again.

  18. What absolute nonsense. Does the government really think that long time USA visitors and property owners would get their vaccinations at a chain drug store or Walmart??!! We responsibly got ours in February through a regional hospital/healthcare system. But of course that doesn’t count!!

  19. I want to add that in Texas, as many of you have commented about other states, most of my family was vaccinated at a state vaccine hub. At that time, the most important thing was getting vaccinations in as many arms as possible. The priority was NOT setting up a vaccine registration system. Of course, Texas will never have a vaccine registration system, at least not a state-wide, state-supported system. I received the vaccine in the Moderna Covid Vaccine trial. I initially received the placebo, when the trial was “unblinded” I was vaccinated. I have been fully vaccinated since mid-March. I have no way to prove my vaccination other than my US CDC vaccine card, and I have no hope that CIG will EVER accept that card.

    We own three properties in Grand Cayman. Every day I wonder if it is time to hang up the for sale sign. If we are looking at a future of not visiting without a 10+ day quarantine, then selling is likely the best option. Why continue paying CUC, Logic, water, property manager, strata fees, insurance, maid service, pest control, etc., on properties we cannot visit or rent? We’ve been paying these bills and supporting these Caymanian companies and individuals for the past 16 months. Why continue doing so when CIG provides little hope of allowing the majority of fully vaccinated US citizens to visit without a reduced (or no) quarantine?

    In addition, Premier Panton, will you please cite your source for this statement, ‘“The versions issued in the US are easily faked,” he said. “They have had a significant number of people faking these things and being prosecuted for having done so because the consequences are significant.”’ Does PACT seriously think there will be thousands of people faking vaccine cards and flocking to Cayman? Why bother? There are plenty of other locations they can travel to without presenting proof of vaccine. If CIG is truly so frightened of fake vaccine cards, then put forth a strong penalty, a huge fine, immediate expulsion from the island, and no ability to return for 5 years, 10 years, or life. The continued fear-mongering needs to end.

    The reality is the reopening plan is set up to fail. There is little hope of reaching the 80% vaccine target. It is clear, by the low number of people getting the jab the public has reached or is close to reaching its vaccine threshold. The hope of reopening by November without quarantine for vaccinated people with acceptable proof of vaccination is a pipe dream. Cayman will not see a return of visitors until sometime in 2022, and by then, I wonder how many restaurants, dive shops, and stores that have been hanging on by a thread will be closed forever. And when that time comes, how many property owners will still be unwelcome because we do not have access to one of the chosen vaccine systems CIG deems acceptable as securely verifiable proof of vaccination?

  20. Dear Government,
    Is anyone looking at the science of COVID 19, looking at the percentages of illness vs population vs recovery? Is anyone reading the comments from people to Cayman: permanent residents, property owners, people wanting to invest in Cayman, and many other frustrated people wanting to go back to Cayman and not quarantine in a hotel due to those who will not get vaccinated?
    Has anyone in Government thought through the damage being done the the Cayman economy due to the restrictions put on travel, the number of suffering businesses and individuals, how many people cannot get proper medical treatment (cancer patients just to name one) because of restricted airlines and the quarantine situation? Is anyone thinking what will happen when 80% vaccination rate of an ESTIMATED population number is not reached?
    The 80% will never be realized; vaccination rate has come to a snail’s pace.

    This approach taken by the Cayman government to open the boarders is unrealistic, unjustified, unintelligible.
    The Island cannot survive the way this so-called phased opening plan is currently presented.
    Somebody please think.