The Ministry of Health is pouring cold water on any endeavour from the private sector to sell vaccination ID cards after one version was investigated by police.
It comes as two people marketing such cards deny accusations they are scamming people and claim they are simply providing a solution to a problem created by the Government's own vaccination certificate.
They also claim the Ministry's hardline stance on the issue was very different to past interactions with officials who appeared to be interested or at least, unperturbed, by their proposals.
However, without approval from the Government, the cards are likely to be worthless for the hundreds of people - including one central Auckland school - who have already bought them.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to reveal more information about the Government's vaccination certificates tomorrow, a crucial element in the new Covid-19 Protection Framework which will replace the alert level system.
The certificate will include a QR code - either saved on your phone or printed out - which can be scanned before entering large events or businesses which require proof of vaccination.
It has been indicated that another form of identification would be needed to ensure the unvaccinated aren't masquerading as someone else.
This is why Auckland's Dr Peter Boot and Nathan Gibbs - separately of each other - have been selling physical vaccination ID cards, which include a picture of the owner and use a QR code which, when scanned, show a person's Covid vaccination history.
Both Boot and Gibbs said the card would be useful for older generations and those without smartphones, as it removed the need to have potentially flimsy print-outs of their vaccination certificate.
However, Ministry of Health national digital services group manager Michael Dreyer was adamant there was only one official issuer of such certificates – the Ministry.
"Only a free-of-charge Government-issued vaccination certificate will be accepted," he said.
"In addition, it is the only official proof of your vaccination status that will protect your privacy.
"No other certificate is valid and there is no benefit in 'purchasing' a certificate from another source."
The statement didn't reference whether there were any plans to produce the certificate in the form of a card.
He encouraged people to sign up at mycovidrecord.health.nz where people would be able to request an official record of their vaccination status when the certificates were available.
Boot, medical director at Northcare Accident and Medical in Rosedale, has so far sold about 150 of what's being called a "Health Passport" for $29 each and believed it would be a more efficient way to verify vaccination history.
"It becomes a very obvious thing to combine the two things so you've got photo ID, the ability to verify it with an app and also a person's vaccination status all in one," he said.
Boot had reached out to director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield about the proposal. In emails seen by the NZ Herald, Bloomfield's only query appeared to concern the product's name, as it was similar to another health tool.
It is also understood that Boot and Ministry officials were in contact about the ID card and whether it could be used in addition to what was provided by the Government.
Boot said it was also effective in identifying vaccinated staff in businesses and schools, providing peace of mind for customers and students.
Diocesan School for Girls principal Heather McRae had used the cards to identify the school's 12-person Covid-19 action team, which included staff and students.
She was in favour of the card, partly because there was no alternative currently and it could act as reassurance for students.
"I think they're really good and I would hope something like this could sit alongside [the Government certificate]."
Boot, whose facility administers vaccines, was able to check a person's vaccination history against the national system to prevent people providing false information.
When advised about the Government's position on the matter, Boot said they would continue to offer the product and hoped to work with officials on a solution.
Torbay resident Nathan Gibbs, who normally works in the concrete industry, said he had sold "a couple hundred" of his "myNZVIDcard" for $29.99 each.
When he approached the Ministry of Health about the idea in September, one official said while the Ministry could not endorse or support the card, Gibbs was free to continue his service.
However, following a leaflet drop around Auckland businesses, Gibbs found the legitimacy of his product had been strongly questioned by Auckland business association Heart of the City and he was visited by police on November 1.
A later email from police, seen by the Herald, warned Gibbs he could be charged if an unvaccinated person purchased a card under false pretences and used it to gain access to venue they weren't entitled to enter.
Gibbs said people who wanted to purchase the card had to provide a letter from their GP, verifying their vaccination. When asked about people supplying a fraudulent document, Gibbs said any suspicion was followed up with the person's GP.
Gibbs denied accusations he was operating a scam and pledged to refund everyone if the cards were not approved by the Government.
"No course it's not [a scam], it's for the greater good of you and me to have a non-intrusive way to be able to show our [vaccination history], that's all."
Like Boot, Gibbs said an ID card would be useful for people not accustomed to smartphones and would be a more efficient method than what the Government had proposed.
However, he was not concerned if he had to walk away from the endeavour.
"I've done my bit and I can look at myself in the mirror and go, 'I tried to help New Zealand, not my fault, I've tried to do everything I can'."