How to use the NHS app as a Covid vaccine passport

The future looks uncertain for vaccine passports as Boris Johnson faces a likely defeat in the House of Commons. 

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have already indicated that they would oppose Mr Johnson’s plans to introduce vaccine passports, and at least 42 Conservative MPs have signed a petition opposing the use of vaccine certification in “general services, businesses or jobs”.

Mr Johnson stated on July 19 that he would change the law to require proof of two doses of a Covid vaccine for entry into nightclubs and “other venues where large crowds gather”.

A Labour spokesman, however, has addressed the source of anxiety: “We need to see the detail of what the Government puts forward regarding vaccine passports. We oppose the use of Covid vaccination status for everyday access to venues and services. It’s costly, open to fraud and is impractical.

“Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus. Testing for access to venues would be more efficient, and would give people and businesses more certainty.”

Mr Johnson said he would bring forward plans to require proof of two vaccine doses for clubs and other settings by the end of September. By then, everyone over 18 would have been offered two doses of a Covid vaccine under government plans, countering claims of discrimination for demanding checks. At this time, the Government confirmed, proof of a negative test would no longer be sufficient, and testing would no longer be prioritised in favour of vaccine certification. 

The vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said on ‘Freedom Day’ that vaccine passports would be made possible using the NHS Covid Pass, which is a section of the NHS App that lets users show whether they have been vaccinated or recently had a test for coronavirus – a so-called vaccine passport.

This pass has been used as a proof for fully vaccinated overseas travel and will now be a requirement to get into hundreds of venues around the UK, despite previous promises from ministers there were no plans for such a scheme.

It was initially suggested that vaccine passports could be used in workplaces, after 10.4 million people have now signed up to use the NHS app. However, the growing unpopularity of the passport scheme makes this eventuality highly unlikely.  

Here is everything you need to know about downloading and using the NHS Covid Pass:

What is a vaccine passport?

A vaccine passport should allow travellers who have had two jabs, and therefore are likely to have strong immunity against coronavirus, to travel more easily. Some countries have made having proof of a vaccine or a recent test a prerequisite for entry.

The UK’s Covid vaccine pass is part of the official NHS app – not the NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app. 

How do I download the NHS app?

The official NHS app is available to download for most smartphones. The app you’ll need to download to access the vaccine passport scheme is simply called “NHS App”. 

The contact tracing app, called NHS COVID 19, is separate and will not include vaccine passports.

Open your App Store if using an iPhone, or the Google Play Store on an Android phone. Search for “NHS App” and it should be the top result.

The app is compatible with most Android smartphones. Any device running Android 5.0 and higher will be able to download and use it.

What do you need for a Covid pass?

The following Covid tests or vaccines are accepted to give users a complete Covid pass.

  • Two doses of the Moderna, Astrazeneca or Pfizer vaccine, or one dose of the Janssen vaccine in England. The pass will be ready weeks after your final dose of the vaccine.
  • A negative PCR or lateral flow test within 48 hours, which can activate as soon as you complete the test. This test needs to be registered online using the Register My Test Result service. A response may take up to two hours. However, this will not be accepted in some venues from September.
  • A report of a positive PCR test within the last six months, valid for 180 days. Similarly to the lateral flow tests, this will not be sufficient from September.

How does the app work?

The NHS app works by allowing people to register details such as their name, postcode and NHS number to link the app with their health record held by their GP.

This information is then shown in the app once people have logged into it, allowing them to see their vaccination record as well as other medical information such as allergies and appointment records.

To find your vaccination status in the app, users can click the tab “your health” or click on the service “get your NHS Covid pass”. 

You will then be presented with a digital barcode, which can be presented at an event or when you travel for confirmation. 

This can be downloaded as a PDF, or you can ask for it to be sent to your email address.

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