Government exploring digital vaccine passport for young children

Written by Sam Trendall on 30 May 2022 in News
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Vaccines minister claim that consideration of feasibility is currently taking place

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The government is exploring the possibility of enabling children as young as five to obtain digital certification of their Covid vaccination status.

The NHS began offering coronavirus vaccinations to children aged 5 to 11 on 4 April; the expansion of the immunisation programme is offering infants a two-dose course of the Pfizer vaccine. Each jab will be one third of the strength of those given to older children and adults.

By the end of last month, a system had been put in place through which fully vaccinated 5–11-year-olds could apply for a paper copy of an NHS Covid Pass for international travel – although, with a minimum of eight weeks between the two doses, very few will yet be eligible to obtain the document.

In the meantime, the government is considering the possibility of also offering a digital certification option.


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“Since 28 April 2022, the NHS Covid Pass travel letter has been available for five- to 11-year-olds who have received a full primary course of vaccination,” said vaccines minister Maggie Throup, in answer to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney. 

“A parent or guardian can request the letter via NHS.UK or 119. The feasibility of a digital travel pass for this cohort is currently under review.”

Everyone aged 13 and upwards can obtain a digital Covid Pass via the NHS app, while 12 year olds – who are on year too young to be eligible to sign up for the mobile software – can visit the NHS.UK website to obtain a digital document.

Despite the vaccine programme being extended to 12-to-15-year-olds in October, it was not until December that the government provided them with the ability to obtain a hard-copy “travel letter” evidencing their vaccination status. It took two further months for the digital option to follow.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@dodsgroup.com.

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