UK plans to use health service app as Covid-19 vaccine proof for travel

Meanwhile, people aged 44 were invited to book their coronavirus vaccine in England from Monday.
Meanwhile, people aged 44 were invited to book their coronavirus vaccine in England from Monday.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Britain is working on using the existing National Health Service (NHS) coronavirus app to show that people have received their Covid-19 vaccine for international travel, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday (April 28).

"It will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS... to be able to show that you've had a vaccine or that you've had testing, and I'm working internationally with partners across the world, to make sure that that system can be internationally recognised," he said.

He told Sky News he would be chairing a meeting of G-7 transport ministers from the Group of Seven next week to discuss the plan further.

Britain has earmarked May 17 as the earliest date when international travel would be allowed for non-essential reasons following a winter lockdown, with a "traffic light system" based on individual countries' Covid-19 risk levels.

Mr Shapps said he would set out which categories countries would be placed into early next month.

"The data does continue to look good from a UK perspective, notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be travelling to and making sure that we're protected from the disease being reimported," he said.

Meanwhile, people aged 44 were invited to book their coronavirus vaccine in England from Monday, as part of a campaign. More than half of the British population have now received a first dose - some 33.7 million people - but Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in an e-mailed statement that "the battle is not yet over".

Around half a million 44-year-olds will get a text message inviting them to get the shot. The decision to move to people aged 40-43 will be set out in the coming days, based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and "as supply allows", NHS England said.

The government wants to encourage vaccine uptake in the younger cohorts to ensure Covid-19 cases remain low across the UK in the coming months.