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NHS vaccine passport ‘ready by Monday’, ministers promise

·2-min read
<p>Sharp increase: the number of international travellers is expected to surge from 17 May</p> (Simon Calder)

Sharp increase: the number of international travellers is expected to surge from 17 May

(Simon Calder)

With less than a week before international leisure travel from England is planned to resume, the government has assured vaccinated holidaymakers that they will have certificates to prove their status by Monday 17 May.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, told Sky News: “Certification, being able to show that you’ve had a jab, is going to be necessary for people to be able to travel.

“So, we want to make sure people can get access to that proof, not least to show governments of other countries that you’ve had the jab if they require that in order to arrive.”

Immunisation has no relevance for entering the UK. But many foreign governments say travellers who have completed a course of vaccinations will not require tests – and some will welcome only tourists who have had both jabs.

On Friday the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, told the Downing Street news conference: “From 17 May, English residents will be able to use their existing NHS health app to gain access to their vaccine records.

“Alternatively, they will be able request a paper letter to verify their vaccination status.”

Additional functionality is being added to the existing NHS app, which already includes details of vaccinations as well as prescription medicines, allergies and test results. Initially it will be available only to people in England.

The government says it is working with devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to allow travellers from those nations to use the app.

Vaccinated prospective travellers who do not have a smartphone will be able to call 119 from Monday and ask for a paper copy to be posted.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) says the certification will be in line with the interim guidance on digital vaccine certification from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO requirements are highly specific, requiring for each jab:

  • The brand of vaccine and the name of the manufacturer;

  • The vaccine batch number;

  • The name of the vaccination facility;

  • The name of the health worker who administered the jab; and

  • On paper certificates, the handwritten signature from “the health worker who provided the vaccination or the supervising clinician”.

The Independent is seeking clarity on how these details will be provided.

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