An update of the NHS Covid Pass to provide proof of booster jabs is imminent, but not as a requirement of entry to the UK.
Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed the government’s intention “to add” booster jabs to the NHS Covid Pass on Monday, suggesting those having a third jab will find “foreign travel easier”. The NHS app already records each jab including the booster but only creates a certificate and QR code for the first two vaccinations
Parts of Europe are reintroducing restrictions as Covid rates rise and require evidence not just of full vaccination but also a booster.
Johnson said: “We’ll be making plans to add the booster dose to the NHS Covid Pass. We’ll have to adjust our concept of what constitutes a full vaccination.” That led to media reports suggesting travellers who have not had a booster would “no longer be able to avoid quarantine returning to Britain”.
Industry sources refute that. One source explained: “The EU updated its Digital Covid Certificate specifications to include the booster and some countries are adding it. [NHS app developer] NHSX is working on this and it should be added in the next one or two weeks in England and Wales. There is no timescale for Scotland.
“But the definition of fully vaccinated in Britain won’t change until the majority have been offered the booster. There is nothing imminent there.”
A second source said: “It’s too soon to include the booster as a requirement for entry to the UK. We don’t have enough people triple vaccinated. It would be a massive step back. But extending the pass to use overseas is sensible. The booster shot is recorded anyway. All it means is creating a certificate out of it. They’re also looking at adding children.”
The NHS Pass doesn’t show the vaccination status of children under 16. However, the issues with children may prove more challenging as the UK only offers under-18s a single dose of vaccine.
The first source noted: “The EU offers two doses to under-18s, and in a number of regions you can’t enter a venue without a double dose. It’s a problem if you go on holiday with teenage children who have to test every time.”