NHS Covid Pass: How can I get a ‘vaccine passport’ and which places will ask you for one?
The Covid‘passport’ could become an ever-present part of daily life in England as restrictions relax and life begins to return to normal.
Some venues and events are encouraged to require the NHS Covid Pass for entry – and it could become law at the end of September to require two doses of the vaccine.
So what exactly is the pass and how can you get it? Here’s what you need to know.
What is an NHS Covid Pass?
The NHS Covid Pass – or so-called ‘vaccine passport’ – is a record of your vaccination or test status.
This is something you can show for entry to certain events or places that may require either full vaccination, immunity from a recent positive test, or a very recent negative test.
It may be necessary for travelling abroad to some countries and, since July 19, can now be requested in England to prove you are less likely to spread the virus.
Anyone can get a pass, as long as one of these conditions applies:
- It has been at least two weeks since completing a full course of vaccination;
- You have evidence of a negative PCR or rapid lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of entry to a venue;
- You have proof of natural immunity shown by a positive PCR test result, lasting for 180 days from the date of the positive test and following self-isolation.
- Because children are not currently being vaccinated against Covid, those under 18 should not have to show their Covid status anywhere they go.
How to get one
The easiest way for anyone with a smart phone is to simply download the pass on the NHS App – note, this is different to the NHS Covid-19 app.
Once you are logged in, an option to ‘get your NHS Covid Pass’ will already be laid out on the home page. Click there to access your pass.
In the app, your Covid status will include a barcode with an expiry date. This is simply the date your barcode will automatically refresh and it will update whenever you log in.
This is important to note if you are planning on either printing off these barcodes or storing them as a PDF – as they may be out of date by the time you use them.
You will, however, always be able to access up-to-date barcodes on the app itself. It is possible to get your pass from the NHS website too.
You can also ask for your pass to be sent to you in the post, either by requesting one online or by calling 119. This paper version will only state your vaccination status and has no expiry date.
Where could you be asked to show one?
Some events and venues may choose to ask for the pass.
Anywhere that fits one of the following descriptions may well opt to require on for entry:
- A crowded indoor setting, like nightclubs and music venues;
- A large and unstructured outdoor event, like business events and festivals;
- Very large structured events like music and sports stadia.
You may also need one if you are planning to travel abroad. What the exact status of your pass – whether it shows full vaccination or proof of immunity – needs to be depends on your destination.
Is it a legal requirement? And could you be turned away for not having one?
Use of the pass is purely voluntary for businesses and organisations, although the government says it encourages its use “in facilities or events where people are likely to be in close proximity to a large number of people from other households for a sustained period of time.”
The government does, however, hope to bring forward a law at the end of September to make two jabs necessary to get into certain venues and events, including night clubs.
While venues are currently free to set their own conditions for entry, what they cannot do is discriminate, lawyer Stephanie Hayden told ITV News.
A bottle of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
She said: “The most obvious one that comes to mind in this situation would potentially be disability.
“So, if for reasons of health, you could not take the vaccine, then it would be wrong under the current legislation and indeed unlawful for a service provider to refuse you access.”
What are the benefits?
Data shows that those vaccinated against Covid-19 are significantly less likely to fall seriously ill from the virus, even if it is still possible to catch it and show symptoms.
The idea behind passports is to make use of the protection vaccines offer – if people mixing within a certain venue are fully vaccinated, the chances of anyone being hospitalised after catching the virus are greatly reduced.
Are there disadvantages to the passes?
One of the fears around using a passport are the effect it could have on people who, for one reason or another, have not yet had the vaccine.
Professor of Social Psychology John Drury, from the University of Sussex, told ITV News: “You only need to look at the demographics of who is getting vaccinated and who isn’t yet to know that some groups are going to be more excluded than others by a passporting system.
“I mean, these are quite consistent patterns that young people, people from deprived communities and ethnic minorities are less likely than other groups to be vaccinated.
“So that would mean that those groups will be more excluded systematically from the activities that require passports.”
So are these passports here to stay?
The future of Covid passes will need to be decided by Parliament Credit: PA
Ultimately, this decision would need to be made in Westminster.
Professor Drury believes these passes could be accepted by the public if they are “limited” in use.
“There has been some research on the conditions under which people would accept vaccine passports,” he told ITV News.
“And that suggests that they’re more acceptable if they have limited application, which means that people are more supportive if these things are not going to be permanent.
“If you look at the purpose, it is that they are all tied around specific purposes. That’s what makes them acceptable.
“So I think it’s a political judgment about whether you might want to keep these things, but from the evidence I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s a lot of public support for permanent use of vaccine passports and similar.”