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. Now First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the plans are going ahead this week.
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 from October 1st.
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 passport?
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 do I get a vaccine passport in Scotland?
You can request a vaccine passport if you’re aged 12 and over and have been vaccinated in Scotland.
The record will not show any vaccinations given outside of Scotland.
The vaccine passport will be made available through the NHS Covid Status App, offering digital proof of vaccination via a QR code for each vaccination received.
The app is available and in action from October 1st, but businesses do not have to enforce the rules until October 18th.
You can still request a secure paper record of vaccination from NHS Inform if you choose to.
Those who are exempt from vaccinations due to medical reasons can also request a document explaining their exemption to venues.
It may become a criminal offence to attempt to enter a large event using a false vaccine passport.
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.
Following the launch of the passports on October 1st, many users came up against issues with signing in and using the app within hours of it becoming available.
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, including live indoor unseated events of more than 500 people, live outdoor unseated events of more than 4,000 people, and events of more than 10,000 people, such as football matches, will require proof of having been fully vaccinated.
Businesses that do not enforce vaccine passports for events covered by the scheme will face government punishment.
However, there is a grace period of a little over two weeks before this becomes mandatory.
“I can therefore confirm that after the legal obligation comes into force at 5am on Friday, this week, we intend to allow a further period of slightly more than two weeks – until October 18 – before any business could face enforcement action for non-compliance,” said First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. “This period – effectively a grace period – will allow businesses to test, adapt and build confidence in the practical arrangements they will need to put in place to be compliant with the scheme.”
There’s also no need to 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.