By Marica Micallef
While citizens are currently being distracted with the many narratives, from the removal of travel restrictions to the war between Russia and Ukraine, other matters are quietly cooking up and this is the exploration of the British government to implement the digital vaccine passport for young children.
In a very recent article, dated 30th May, the media portal Public Technology states that the British “government is exploring the possibility of enabling children as young as five to obtain digital certification of their Covid vaccination status.”
In England, the NHS started providing coronavirus immunizations to kids aged 5 to 11 on April 4th, 2022. Each injection had a dosage that is one-third as powerful as that given to older children and adults.
A system for applying for a paper copy of an NHS Covid Pass for overseas travel for completely immunized 5–11-year-olds had been set up by the end of April, but relatively few will yet be qualified to receive the document because there must be at least eight weeks between the two doses. This is because the extension of the immunization program includes providing infants with a two-dose course of the Pfizer vaccine.
In the meantime, the government is contemplating whether to additionally provide a digital certification option in the interim.
In an answer to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney, vaccines minister Maggie Throup said that “Since 28 April 2022, the NHS Covid Pass travel letter has been available for five- to 11-year-olds who have received a full primary course of vaccination” and that “A parent or guardian can request the letter via NHS.UK or 119. The feasibility of a digital travel pass for this cohort is currently under review.”
In the UK, the NHS app makes it possible for anyone 13 years old and older to get a digital Covid Pass, whereas the NHS.UK website is the only option for 12-year-olds who are too young to register for the mobile app.
Although the 12-to-15-year-olds were added to the immunization program in October 2021, the government did not give them access to a physical “travel letter” verifying their vaccination status until December while the digital option did not follow for another two months.
It is a known fact that we were following the British model where Covid-19 regulations are concerned. Does this mean that young children will start having this Covid pass, even locally?