With more than 12 million people in the UK having already had one dose of the COVID vaccine, the country is cautiously beginning to feel optimistic about the future. And one thing that has the potential to help things go back to normal is a vaccine passport – some sort of record that acts as proof that you've been vaccinated so you could travel to certain countries once restrictions are lifted. So here's everything we know so far about how to get a vaccine passport, and whether they'll be mandatory when flying into or out of the UK.
What is a vaccine passport?
If you hear people referring to vaccine passports in 2021, it is most likely they are talking about some sort of document (digital or otherwise) that proves the carrier has been inoculated against COVID-19. Such schemes are already in development in countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and China.
However, it's worth noting that there is already something called the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) in existence, which was created so travellers could keep track of and prove their vaccinations against diseases such as yellow fever, polio, and Meningococcal meningitis. The ICVP usually comes in the form of a yellow booklet, which travellers can carry in their passport.
Will vaccine passports be used in the UK?
Right now, there is a government-funded digital vaccine pass being trialled in the UK. The aim of the pass (which comes in the form of a phone app) is to see how useful it will be for NHS as a means of recording who has and has not had their first and second dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
However, the No. 10 has say they are not considering the use of vaccine passports for use in international travel. An official spokesperson for Downing Street said (via the Independent): "There are still no current plans to roll out vaccine passports. Going on holiday is currently illegal, but we have always been clear that we will keep the situation under review." Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, the government's Vaccine Taskforce leader Nadhim Zahawi said:
"There are several reasons why we're not doing that. One, vaccines are not mandated in this country, as Boris Johnson has quite rightly reminded parliament that's now how we do things in the UK, we do them by consent," Zahawi explained. "We don't yet know what the impact of the vaccine on transmission is and it would be discriminatory."
What can be used instead of a vaccine passport?
As Zahawi told Sky News, "if other countries obviously require some form of proof" you can ask your GP as all vaccinations are listed on your medical record. Foreign Officer minister James Cleverly also clarified that while the UK isn't planning on using vaccine passports, they "will work with international partners to help facilitate their border arrangements and immigration requirements," as he said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
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