Booster jabs included on NHS Covid Pass

Digital documents now offer users ability to demonstrate third dose of coronavirus vaccination

Credit: Torsten Simon/Pixabay

The digital NHS Covid Pass for overseas travel now allows users to provide evidence that they have received a third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

As of Friday, the documents – which are available to English and Welsh citizens via the NHS app – include details of the receipt of a so-called booster jab, more than 13 million of which have already been administered throughout the UK. 

The update applies only to passes issued for overseas travel. Booster jabs have not been added to the domestic passes which, although not a legal requirement, businesses or events can choose to set as a condition of entry.

The update to the status-certification program comes as some countries impose requirements on the recency of vaccination for inbound travellers; Israel requires visitors to have received their second dose no more than 180 days before arrival, while Austria has set the time limit at 270 days. Other nations, such as Croatia and Vietnam, have imposed a limit of one year.

Until last week, the travel Covid Pass only included evidence of the first two doses of a Covid vaccine – which, in an increasing number of cases, were administered as long as 10 months ago.

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“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to show their vaccine status if they are travelling abroad,” said health and social care secretary Sajid Javid. “This update to the NHS Covid Pass will mean people can have their complete medical picture at their fingertips if they are going on holiday or seeing loved ones overseas. Getting a top-up jab is our best defence against this virus and I urge all those who are eligible to come forward and get boosted.”

The Covid Pass system has now been certified as interoperable with the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate, meaning that travellers from the UK can scan their documents at border checkpoints and venues throughout the European Union – and vice versa. As part of the reciprocity agreement, he NHS-issued documents are also now recognised across 22 other territories and nations that have made similar arrangements with the EU system, including Israel, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, and Morocco.

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSx, which heads up the NHS Covid Pass Programme, said: “The introduction of boosters in the NHS Covid Pass will support the safe opening up of international travel for the 20 million people who are already using the pass. We are determined to make the service as helpful, easy to use and inclusive as possible for its users.”

The passes can be displayed via the NHS app, or downloaded in a PDF that is applicable for 30 days from the date of issue. Those without access to a digital device can request a letter to be sent to them which, like the digital documents, includes a secure QR code that is compatible with scanners used in the UK and in the 48 other countries that interoperate as part the EU vaccine-passport programme.

The NHS Scotland Covid Status app has not yet added booster jabs to users’ vaccination records, but expects to do so within the next couple of weeks. The COVIDCert NI app used in Northern Ireland is also yet to include third doses, but its website indicates that “when policy is agreed by the World Health Organization [and] EU on the recording of boosters on the Covid Certificates, changes will be implemented to the Covid Certification Service to accommodate this”. 

“We are actively reviewing the situation and should have something in place in the coming weeks,” the site added.


Sam Trendall

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