UK’s NHS App to Include Vaccine Passport Starting Next Week

UK’s NHS App to Include Vaccine Passport Starting Next Week
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on the covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference in central London on May 10, 2021. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Pool/AFP, Getty Images)

The app for the UK’s National Health Service will include the ability to show a user’s vaccination status starting next week according to a new report from the Times. The so-called “vaccine passport” will be available to British users just in time for the country’s loosened restrictions on international travel May 17.

The vaccine passport is intended to give British travellers a way to prove to other countries that they’ve been vaccinated and hypothetically speed up the process of allowing the user entry. Anyone who doesn’t have the NHS app, including elderly patients who may not be tech savvy, will be given a paper certificate.

Showing proof of vaccination isn’t required by the UK government at the moment, but private businesses are allowed to require vaccination evidence, according to the BBC. Vaccination proof may also be required starting June 21 for events with large numbers of people, but the NHS vaccine passports main function right now is to allow easier travel to any countries that may require vaccination proof.

British travellers returning from overseas currently need to quarantine before they’re allowed free movement within their own country. But that will change on May 17, when Britons travelling from a select number of countries with low covid numbers will be allowed to travel back without the requirement to quarantine.

The locations where British people can vacation without needing to quarantine when they return will include a “green list” of countries:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Portugal – including Azores and Medira
  • Israel
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cuncha

The caveat for British travellers, however, is that just because a country is on the green list for the UK government, doesn’t mean that all of those countries will let you in. Australia, for example, requires anyone entering the country to quarantine for 14 days in a government-selected hotel at their own expense. The land down under also currently bans even Australian citizens from entering the country if they’ve been in India over the past two weeks — a controversial ban that’s currently being contested in the Australian courts. The ban on travel from India to Australia is scheduled to be lifted on Friday.

The UK was one of the hardest hit countries during the pandemic, with over 4.4 million infections and over 127,000 deaths to date, according to Johns Hopkins University. But the country has really turned things around with an aggressive vaccine rollout.

The UK reported 2,357 new cases of covid-19 on Monday and just four new deaths, according to the government’s covid website. Over 35.4 million Britons have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, with over 17.8 million people now fully vaccinated. That means 67.3% of all British people who are eligible for the vaccine have gotten at least one dose and 33.9% are fully vaccinated.

Things are starting to return to “normal” for countries like the U.S. and UK, which both boast some of the highest vaccination rates in the world for large countries. But there will certainly be a weird transition period where things like vaccine passports are sometimes required for everything from travelling internationally to maybe even having a drink at your local bar.