European vaccination certificate: understand everything in the QR code on your document

Since the end of June 2021, the vaccination certificate has changed slightly. Its European version has a new QR code and the 2D-DOC code has disappeared. What is it changing and why is it changing? Numerama takes stock.

What is happening ?

If you have agreed to be vaccinated, you may have noticed a slight difference in the documents you are given between the first and second injection – if the vaccine you are given requires a booster after an injection. first bite. Indeed, the square visuals that appear on the vaccination certificate are no longer quite similar and no longer have the same information.

This difference is especially noticeable if your first dose was received before June 23, while the next one was given after. On the sheet given to you before this date, and which you will find on the dedicated space offered by Health Insurance, it is a question of both a 2D-DOC certificate and a COVID Europe certificate. After this date, there is no longer any question of the 2D-DOC certificate.

A European certificate of vaccination. The 2D-DOC code disappears in this version. // Source: Numerama

What is a QR code?

These square black and white visuals are QR codes, an acronym for Quick Response Code (QR stands for Quick Response). It’s actually a two-dimensional barcode, where the modules (black squares on a white background) are read from top to bottom and left to right. This is the reason why QR code is described as a 2D barcode. This is used to store information.

In the context of the pandemic, these QR codes are widely used, in France, but also abroad, but their history goes back long before. It can be used, for example, to store the menu of a restaurant menu, which you only have to scan with your smartphone, via a dedicated application. Currently, QR codes are in the news via the health pass, which is increasingly essential.

What’s in the QR code?

QR codes are used to record information: this could be the menu of a restaurant card, a website address or a series of data, including personal and medical. is of course this kind of data that we find in QR and 2D-Doc codes. The patient’s civil status and data relating to the injection are typically found.

Thus, are entered in the QR code the first name and the last name of the subject, its Date of Birth, the number of doses injected compared to the vaccination schedule, the date of the bite, the disease targeted, the vaccine employee, the maker the medical product, the transmitter the certificate, the state member of the European Union in which the vaccination took place. These data, which are sensitive, can be read in the event of a health pass check.

European digital green certificate
QR codes are used to store information. In this case, the civil status of the person and his medical situation concerning the coronavirus. // Source: European Union, 2021

What is a 2D-DOC code?

A 2D-DOC code is in fact based on the 2D-DOC / ANTS standard, recalls a frequently asked questions devoted to TousAntiCovid – because the codes can be saved in the mobile application. This standard is ” used by the French administration to certify its documents. This avoids possible fraud linked to the presentation of forgery.

In this case, the authentication of the results of the tests and the vaccination acts passed until June 23 by a Datamatrix, which is a variant of the QR code. These certificates were then provided by a health authority in the form of a secure code (whether it is the 2D-DOC or the EU digital COVID certificate, which took over) which allows their validity to be certified, continues the FAQ.

Why this change on the certificate?

This is due to a homogenization at European level of vaccination certificates – and through them, of the principle of the health pass -, so that information can be read without difficulty anywhere in the Union. France, which initially opted for a national approach with 2D-Doc and Datamatrix, has therefore upgraded its system to switch to the Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) and the QR code.

This transition took place on June 23. It is from this date that the certificates issued were updated to take into account the interoperability needs on a continent-wide scale. This European health pass has been compulsory since July 1 for travel, especially during border controls. It is for this reason that the 2D-DOC code has been withdrawn and that the new documents no longer have it.

Do I need to update my certificates?

It all depends on your injection dates and how you store your information. If everything took place after June 23, you have nothing to do: your documents are already adapted to European standards, whether in paper or digital version, in the Health Insurance teleservice or in the TousAntiCovid application. . Ditto for PCR tests to see if you are positive or not.

If some of your injections have taken place before, it may be necessary to update the certificates. This is the case if you have opted for the paper version of the document (the 2D-DOC code cannot, in fact, be updated on the sheet and become a QR code) and for its PDF version (idem). On the other hand, if you go through TousAntiCovid, the application itself does an automatic conversion.

The TousAntiCovid “notebook” is used as part of the health pass. // Source: TousAntiCovid

How is the QR code read?

The QR code is only a bar code and it is not necessarily very secure: in plain text, a QR code reader can easily view the information it contains. This is why it is good practice to take care not to lose your certificate and to avoid showing anything on social networks. Your data could be read by a third party who may not have good intentions.

In fact, there is no fundamental difference between these different codes in terms of security and confidentiality. If the health pass is checked, it must be read by an official application, TousAntiCovid-Verif, which ensures that the data displayed on the screen is minimized – the application is however subject to criticism, including from the CNIL.

The government has planned a special application, TousAntiCovid-Verified, to check attstations. // Source: Google Play Store

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