Last week the government announced that the NHS application would be ready to be used as a Covid-19 passport from 17 May, when international travel is allowed.
The app will be used as a digital solution for people to demonstrate their vaccination status, and will also be considered non-digital solutions.
But what is a Covid-19 passport, which you can use, and what to do if you don’t have a smartphone?
What is a Covid-19 passport?
The idea behind Covid-19 passports is that they could be used to prove vaccination status during the trip.
This could, in theory, mean that travelers could easily move between countries without having to be quarantined.
Currently, the UK government has suggested that passports will only be used for international travel and that they will not have to be introduced to events in the UK.
Government orientation suggests that those traveling abroad will still have to check the Covid requirements of the country they are visiting, as few accept Covid-19 passports.
“Not many countries currently accept vaccination tests. So, for now, most people will have to follow other rules when traveling abroad, such as taking a negative test before leaving, ”he says.
If you are traveling abroad you should:
- check the entry requirements for your destination country at gov.uk
- get up-to-date information from your destination country website
How will it work?
The government announced in April that the NHS application would be used as a Covid-19 passport.
He NHS application already allows users to access various NHS services from their smartphone or tablet, including vaccination logs.
It was launched in 2018 and offers services that include symptom checking and triage; appointment booking; repetition of orders with prescription; access to patient records; deactivation of national data; and organ donation preference.
It now has more than 3.5 million users, but only 2.5 million of those users have fully verified their identities to allow them to access services such as appointment with GPs, repeat prescriptions, and access your health records.
Users can check their vaccination status through the app if their GP allows it. This applies to all vaccines.
The government recommends people sign up for the NHS app before booking trips abroad.
When will it be used in England and who is eligible?
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed last week that they will be Covid-19 passports ready to use before May 17th.
To use the app you must be registered with a GP in England. The government recommends people to register on the app before booking international travel and at least two weeks before the departure date.
Currently, the Covid-19 passport can only be used once a person has had a full course of vaccinations, that is, both strokes.
What if you haven’t had both shots?
No doubt many of those who have not had or cannot have the vaccine will worry about it affecting their ability to travel.
As mentioned above, many countries do not accept Covid passports as proof of vaccination, so it is unlikely to affect your immediate ability to travel. That could change in the future if vaccination passports are recognized internationally, but we still don’t know how it will work.
Government guidelines for people who have not been vaccinated suggest that they should meet the entry requirements of the country they are traveling to.
It will likely include proof of a negative Covid test on arrival. Some countries also require people to be quarantined on arrival, so be sure to check the tips before traveling.
Details on entry requirements for different countries can be found at gov.uk foreign travel tips and on the websites in your destination country.
Are there security risks with the use of Covid-19 passports?
As with the use of sensitive data, there will always be privacy concerns when using the NHS application as a vaccine passport.
Government guidelines ensure that the status of vaccination is safely maintained in the NHS application and that it can only be accessed through the NHS login service.
The application only shows the vaccination status against Covid-19 in the form of a vaccination record. In the future, the app will also be used to display Covid test results.
In a interview with Digital Health News on the potential impact of Covid-19 passports Eerke Boiten, a professor of cybersecurity at De Montfort University in Leicester, said a strong authentication system should be established to ensure privacy and proper use.
“In terms of privacy risks, I don’t think it adds significantly to the risks that already exist in the NHS application itself,” he said.
“The NHS app has sensitive recipe information here. Having it on the phone, with the right security measures, is already a situation where we have to worry about making sure no sensitive information is leaked.”
He added that an impact assessment on data protection should be carried out before deploying Covid-19 passports to ensure privacy and security.
What about people who don’t have a smartphone?
The NHS application is just one way the government seeks to implement Covid-19 passports. They are seeing a mix of digital and non-digital options.
The government has established a helpline for people who need a Covid-19 passport to enter the country where they travel but do not have access to a smartphone.
If you call 119 people, you can request a letter detailing their vaccination status.
This should be done at least five days after the second dose of the vaccine and will take five more days to get there, according to government guidelines.