BERLIN (Reuters) – German pharmacies have stopped issuing digital COVID-19 vaccination certificates after hackers created passes from fake outlets, the industry association said on Thursday, the latest blow to the inoculation drive.
Germans who have been fully vaccinated are entitled to a certificate which allows them more freedoms, especially to travel. Pharmacies and vaccination centres issue them.
The German Pharmacists’ Association (DAV) said hackers had managed to produce two vaccination certificates by accessing the portal and making up pharmacy owner identities. DAV were alerted to the fact by the Handelsblatt newspaper.
“The DAV, in consultation with the Health Ministry, stopped issuing certificates on Wednesday to investigate further,” said the association in a statement, adding it had so far found no other indication of unauthorised access to the portal.
“It can therefore be assumed that the more than 25 million vaccination certificates issued so far through pharmacies have all been issued by legally registered pharmacies,” said the DAV.
After a slow start, due to supply problems and bureaucratic hurdles, Germany’s vaccine rollout picked up in May and June but now the pace of doses being administered is slowing.
With the number of COVID-19 cases rising again in the last couple of weeks, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Thursday to get vaccinated. Around 60% of Germans have had one shot and 47% are fully vaccinated.
“We all want our normality back,” Merkel said. “The more we are vaccinated, the freer we will be.”
It is unclear when pharmacies will resume issuing passes and whether additional security measures are needed, said the DAV.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Toby Chopra)