The Scottish Government’s proposals for a vaccine passport scheme, requiring Scots over the age of 18 to prove that they have been double jabbed in order to access certain events and venues such as nightclubs, were backed by MSPs in Holyrood on Thursday (9 September).
68 MSPs voted in favour of the new Covid passport scheme, while 55 MSPs voted against the proposals.
The scheme will see the use of vaccine passports in Scotland extend beyond international travel, with many countries worldwide requiring Brits to prove that they have been double vaccinated at least two weeks before entry.
Coronavirus rules around self-isolation and returning to Scotland from amber list countries on the UK’s traffic light travel system were relaxed in August.
But the mandatory vaccine scheme will see new rules imposed on large events in Scotland.
So, how can you download your vaccine status - and what can it be used for?
Here is everything you need to know.
What is a vaccine certificate?
A vaccine certificate is proof that you have been fully vaccinated, designed to let people access their proof of vaccination without needing to ask their GP.
The Scottish Government said this would help to “ease the burden” on the NHS.
Currently, the vaccine certificate service allows people going on holiday abroad to access their record of vaccination if needed, showing both dates of their jab and the type of vaccine administered.
Many international destinations have different entry rules for UK tourists.
More than 30 countries, including Greece and Spain, now accept the vaccine certificate.
France wants visitors from the UK to be fully vaccinated before they enter, while mainland Portugal has said it will waive quarantine requirements for the double jabbed.
However, the government is still urging people to take a “cautious” approach to going on holiday during the pandemic.
How can I get a vaccine certificate in Scotland?
People have been advised by the government to request their certificate if they are planning to travel abroad in the next 21 days.
It can be accessed by anyone who has had a dose of the Covid vaccine, including those aged 16 and 17 who have had it.
You are currently able to view your vaccine status via the NHS Inform patient portal.
Users are required to log in using their unique username and password included in their Covid vaccine appointment letter or text message.
But don’t worry if you’ve lost or forgotten your details, as you can create new ones on the portal using the “recover username” and “forgotten password” options.
Once you’ve signed in, you can select “vaccination status” to view your certificate and choose whether to download a QR code displaying your vaccine information or have your vaccine passport sent to you by post.
You can also request a printed copy of your vaccination status if you’re not online by phoning the free Covid status helpline on 0808 196 8565.
The scheme mirrors that in England, where people are able to use the NHS app to either download their certificate or have it emailed to them.
From 30 September, Scots will be able to use a new NHS Scotland Covid Status App to display their vaccine passport and see which venues will require these as proof of being double jabbed.
This date will see the ability to download PDF vaccine certificates be disabled – but those who cannot or do not wish to use the vaccine passport app can request a paper record.
Following claims that the downloadable PDF or paper copy of Scottish vaccine certificates could be easily falsified and manipulated through digital software, the new paper records will be ‘uneditable’ and complete with features like thermodynamic ink to limit potential for forgery.
What can the vaccine passport be used for?
MSPs in Holyrood approved the Scottish Government’s broad outline of a mandatory Covid-19 vaccine certificate scheme in Scotland during a parliamentary vote on Thursday 9 September.
The scheme means that certain types of venues in Scotland which have been deemed as particularly at risk of Covid transmission, with large numbers of people gathering in indoor spaces, will require proof of having been fully vaccinated.
Details of the Scottish Government scheme were outlined on its website ahead of the Holyrood vote on Thursday.
The strategy for the mandatory vaccine passport plan states that “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.”
It adds that “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.
Your Covid vaccine certificate may also be needed as official proof when you travel abroad.
However, the certificate is not proof of ID, won’t act as a passport replacement and can’t guarantee you access to international travel.
Don’t worry about your privacy, though, as you can’t be tracked by your vaccination certificate and your personal information won’t be shared with third parties.
Which Scottish venues will require vaccine passports?
The Scottish Government has said that the mandatory vaccine certificate will act as a key way to keep Covid cases low in Scotland after daily positive cases in the country spiked at over 7,000 in early September.
It will apply only to those over the age of 18, with those who were unable to receive a Covid-19 jab for medical reasons exempt from the scheme alongside vaccine trial participants and staff working at venues which fall under the scope of the scheme.
The venues which will fall under the mandatory vaccine passport scheme from 1 October are:
- nightclubs and analogous venues
- sexual entertainment venues
- unseated, indoor live events with audiences of more than 500 people
- unseated, outdoor live events with audiences of more than 4,000 people
- all events with more than 10,000 people in the audience