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Concern Over Vaccine Passports Phone App

Concern Over Vaccine Passports Phone App

Campaigners are expressing concern that disabled people may find themselves unable to use services and get into events if Vaccine Passports become regarded as essential in the UK.

NHS Digital recently introduced a function to its general NHS app which shows if a user has had two doses of an approved vaccination, as evidence for countries that require evidence of vaccination as a condition of entry.

However there are fears that this could disadvantage disabled people in this country who do not own or use a device – such as a smartphone or tablet – which can run the app, if it is decided that the passport has to be used here.

Although you can request a paper version by telephoning 119 at least five days after receiving your second dose, this fact has not been as widely publicised. There is also a method which allows people to view their vaccination status online and download or print this as a PDF document but this option is limited to NHS staff and those with an online NHS status.

“We hope that the Government does not allow venues to demand Vaccine Passports for entry to events and services as this can cause further risk of exclusion to disabled people,’‘ said James Martin, the engagement, communications, and policy worker for Disability Sheffield.

He added: “We are conscious that many disabled people may not have a smartphone or their conditions make it unwise to take the technology out of their homes. With the lack of response to our members’ questions, it might be that disabled people wish to ensure they have a paper vaccine passport should the Government not listen to our concerns.”

Disability Sheffield sent a letter to the Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit at the start of April but has yet to receive a reply.

It read: “At the recent Disability Sheffield Covid drop-in session (a pan disability group), we discussed the emerging vaccine passports that are being contemplated and wish to raise some concerns for feedback.

“As disabled people with a variety of impairments we are conscious that though many of us will choose to be vaccinated, we are concerned that some either will opt not to, or have difficulties in receiving vaccinations. We are also concerned that any domestic introduction of a vaccination certificate or passport could easily result in another means of discrimination for vulnerable people despite having robust reasons for not being vaccinated.

“If the government goes down the route of a certificate or passport then it is vital that in any associated legislation it is made explicit and clear that venues would be committing an offence if excluding people that due to disability would be unwise to take the vaccine due to other medical circumstances. If this is not explicitly in the legislation and briefing to venues causes exclusion this results in disabled people having to fight against any discriminatory decisions. The additional burden would be created by government by failing to ensure that a new scheme clearly states specific protection for disabled people who are not taking up the offer of vaccination. In short, we would rather that legislation was explicitly put in place to outlaw the use of any vaccination passport for managing entry to domestic venues of any kind. “Concerning the vaccination passport for international travel, similar care is needed for the preceding reasons, however, it might be more essential as a tool for everyone’s protection. We simply ask that any rules to permit some form of exemption strategy to ensure that those who feel it inappropriate to be vaccinated who have truly essential trips (e.g. medical treatment unavailable in the UK) can receive travel authority from the government as appropriate.”


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