Citizens of England will be able to use the National Health Service app as a vaccine passport from Monday.
The digital certificates will be available from May 17, the same day the country lifts the ban on non-essential travel . Tourists without a smartphone can request a paper version by calling the NHS helpline at 119.
The future of COVID travel
The digital version will be displayed on the NHS app that was originally designed for booking appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions, rather than the COVID-19 app that is used for testing and tracking. To download the app, users must be registered with a GP in England and be 13 years or older .
Initially, the app will only display the user’s vaccination record, although future updates will integrate the COVID-19 test results. The government says the vaccination status ‘will be kept securely within the NHS app’ and will only be accessible via the NHS login service .
Vaccine passports will initially be used for international travel only, but the government previously suggested that they could be used later for domestic venues like pubs.
The Ada Lovelace Institute, a body that studies data ethics, has released a report that sets out six requirements that governments must meet before allowing vaccine passports :
- Scientific confidence in the impact on public health.
- Clear, specific and delimited purpose.
- Ethical consideration and clear legal guidance on permitted and restricted uses, and mechanisms to support rights and redress, and to address illegal use.
- Sociotechnical systems design, including operational infrastructure.
- Public legitimacy.
- Protection against future risks and global mitigation strategies for global.