Scotland vaccine passport: Everything you need to know about covid jab certificates

By Craig Williams

MSPs have this evening voted to introduce a vaccination certification (or vaccine 'passport') scheme in Scotland.

It comes just a week after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to bring in such a scheme for venues such as night clubs and events such as larger football matches and music festivals.

Speaking during her latest covid update yesterday, the First Minister said that she believed vaccine passports are a "reasonable response to a very difficult situation" and would act as a motivator for more Scots to get themselves vaccinated.

The vaccine passport scheme is also, she noted, "an alternative to the risk of further periods of closure for higher risk settings".

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MSPs have this afternoon voted to introduce a vaccination certification scheme in Scotland. (Getty Images)

Here's everything you need to know about the new vaccine passport scheme and what it means:

What does the vaccine passport scheme mean?

The scheme will require a person seeking entry to certain venues and settings to show that they have been fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means vaccinated with a MHRA recognised vaccine in line with the MHRA recommended number of doses for the vaccine used and two weeks has passed for the vaccine to take effect.

Initially, the scheme will not permit a negative test result to be offered as an alternative to evidence of vaccination, but this will be kept under review.

Why is it being implemented?

The Scottish Government believes the vaccine certification scheme will aid them in reducing the rate and impact of covid transmission.

The proposal paper for their introduction notes: "Research evidence indicates that being vaccinated reduces the risk that a person will become infected with the virus, and likely further reduces their risk of transmitting coronavirus. Ensuring only those who are vaccinated attend higher risk venues and events therefore directly reduces the risk of transmission.

Where someone does catch the virus, being vaccinated significantly reduces the likelihood of serious harm or death and in doing so alleviate pressure on the healthcare system. As a result, certification provides a targeted and proportionate means to reduce risk while maximising our ability to keep open certain settings and events where transmission is a higher risk.

In addition, the need to be vaccinated is expected to encourage the remaining sections of the eligible population yet to be vaccinated to take up the offer of the vaccine."

How will it work?

People will be able to access the NHS Scotland COVID-19 Status app. This will include a person’s vaccination record in line with the requirements for international travel. The App screen shows a QR code for each vaccination.

As is currently the case people unable to use the app will be able to request a secure un-editable paper record of vaccination, with enhanced security features such as thermodynamic ink to prevent forgery. This will also have a QR code.

The staff at a venue subject to the scheme will download a free QR code verifier app to a smartphone or device. This will be available for download in week beginning September 13. Venue staff check will check a customer’s QR code to ensure the record of vaccination is genuine.

There will also be a process to allow a person who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to show a document confirming that they are exempt.

Where will they be needed?

The vaccine passport scheme will apply only in the following 'higher risk' settings.

  • nightclubs and analogous venues
  • sexual entertainment venues
  • live events: indoors unseated 500+ in the audience
  • live events: outdoors unseated 4,000+ in the audience
  • all events: 10,000+ in the audience

When will it go live?

The Scottish Government intends the scheme to be ready to go live on Friday, October 1. This will give businesses time to prepare and more people to get vaccinated. It will also mean the scheme being introduced at the same time as the permanent digital solution for vaccination certification.

The scheme will be kept under regular review, with three weekly Parliamentary reviews. Any proposed changes to the settings of venues in which certification would apply will be brought back to Parliament for approval.

Who is exempt?

The Scottish Government is proposing the following exemptions:

  • under 18s (we will keep the age under review and this is likely to be reduced to 16 once all in the 16-18 age group have had the opportunity to be vaccinated)
  • participants in vaccine trials
  • people unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons
  • employees at venues within scope of the scheme

Is there a cost involved?

All software, apps and paper copies of certificates will be free to use.

Businesses will be able to use an app free of charge to scan the codes used on all certificates. Businesses will require a hardware mechanism (such as mobile phones) to verify the certificates.


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