Vaccine Passports; are they a logistical nightmare?

Despite England rejecting the idea, from the 18th of October, nightclubs in Scotland have required proof of vaccination, or a ‘vaccine passport’, for entry. This has presented many benefits for students, making sure we all feel safer on nights out. As freshers flu has made its way across the student body, it is a relief not to have the added likelihood of catching Covid at a nightclub. However, vaccine passports have not come without their complications. 

The introduction of vaccine passports has meant that those who are vulnerable or nervous about the spread of Covid do not need to miss out on nights out. A fourth year student I spoke to, Valentina Giai, is diabetic, making her clinically vulnerable to Covid. She said that prior to club’s requiring vaccination for entry she would not feel comfortable going, and risking contact with that many potentially unvaccinated people. Now, however, she feels confident that the space is significantly safer, and as a result does not feel the need to avoid club environments. This is a key positive effect that vaccine passports have had, providing a newfound freedom for those who are clinically vulnerable, and may have been shielding for the majority of the last two years. 

Even for those who are not medically vulnerable, vaccine passports have largely dispelled a fear that many students around me expressed about going out and catching Covid. Despite not necessarily being worried about getting seriously ill, having to isolate for 10 days and potentially feeling unwell would have a huge impact on the daily lives of many students, and often wouldn’t be worth it for a single night in a club.  

However, despite the theoretical benefits of vaccine passports, the rollout of them in Edinburgh has caused much confusion and complication, of which I personally experienced. Having received my first dose of the vaccine in Scotland, and the second in England, I found myself unable to prove my vaccine status using either the English or Scottish app when it was introduced at the beginning of October. When speaking to the English helplines, they insisted that the Scottish app should work for me, as my primary GP registration was in Scotland. However when I managed to log into the Scottish app, it had only documented my first dose, despite the fact that I received my second dose months ago. Given the volume of English students studying in Edinburgh, some of whom are likely to be in a similar position to myself, it seems an oversight to have no way of merging the two systems to receive one vaccine passport. As young people we are surrounded by marketing encouraging us to get our vaccinations, which feels ironic to those of us who are fully vaccinated, but cannot prove it on paper. 

International students have also expressed confusion around the forms of Vaccine passports that are accepted for entry into clubs. My flatmate, a third year student who is American and received both of her vaccine doses there, had only received a card confirming her status, and not an online barcode that could be scanned. As she had only heard about the digital ‘Vaccine Passports’ as the requirement for club entry, she was unsure of how to prove her status, leading to anxiety as to whether or not to go out and risk it.

However once we ventured out, we realised that the criteria for acceptance was not as strict as I had previously assumed. It did not seem essential to have a digital vaccine passport, and many clubs have since expressed their policies on entry, including how to prove your status when you were vaccinated outside of the UK. As a result, both my American flatmate and I had no trouble entering venues with only a physical card as proof. I imagine that as time goes on and clubs get used to the policy, just as we are adjusting to it, there will be less confusion, and vaccine passports will become as commonplace as merely showing one’s ID. 

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