Things to know about the COVID-19 Vaccine Passport

The great British Freedom day of Monday 19 July is now behind us.

It is interesting to see how many people continue to wear masks in shops and do their best to keep a respectful distance from others. Lockdowns and COVID-19 testing has affected us all, and our view of the world, in different ways.  The vaccine passport is one issue that may come to divide or define us, so we thought we would take a closer look.

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What is it?

We are not sure how many IPS members are excited about the re-opening of nightclubs, but it now seems that from September you will need to display a Vaccine Passport (VP) as proof of your double vaccinated status to gain entry to one.

The NHS App (which is different from the NHS Test and Trace App) is the key piece of software to enable this approach.  It has an area within it called NHS COVID-19 Pass which shows off your vaccine status.  By the end of September all over 18s in the UK will have had the chance to have had two jabs.  That is the moment it will be deemed ‘fair’ to use the status to distinguish those who have, from those who have not, and ca therefore ‘come in’.

Where is it currently used?

The VP is already being used as proof for those choosing international travel and by cruise ships, domestically and globally.  The app was already being used by over 10 million Brits in JUly, so its acceptance and usage by the public appears to have already happened.  The incentive to get it, and therefore be able to travel or more easily get in to concerts or sporting events,  has proved irresistible to many people who have set aside any concerns they may have (and implications for civil liberties) and gone ahead and activated it.

The NHS App carries lots of your personally identifiable information (like name, address, NHS number, email address and telephone number) so it is a good one to setup with Face ID or fingerprint/touch ID rather than rely on username and password.  When you set it up you have to prove who you are for the app to gain permission to match you with the health record(including which vaccine you have had) held by your GP.

The critical ‘vaccine status’ is a 2D digital bar code (which refreshes every 30 seconds and expires after 28 days to be replaced by a newly generated one to prevent fraud) can be presented to organisations who need to check your status.   Your vaccine details are not visible to the human eye. The QR screen can also be downloaded as a PDF to store, email or print in case your phone runs out of battery at a crucial moment.  Alternatively, you can avoid the whole ‘process on mobile’ and call 119 to get an NHS ‘COVID-19 pass letter’.



Opposing opinions

Supporters would argue that the UK government’s push to recognise the VP more widely is merely following the practical lead taken in the travel and hospitality industries, even though the government had previously suggested they would oppose such moves.  Opponents argue that it is an identity card by the back door, the first step towards an age of surveillance and a preview of Chinese style government interference in our daily lives.

The World Health Organisation has been operating a “Yellow Card” for some time now; it documents the status of travellers vaccinations against Yellow Fever and Cholera and is widely accepted.  Global standards are emerging at the moment and different countries are taking different positions according to the severity of COVID-19, the success of vaccines and the need to kickstart the economy within their borders.  For now, the UK’s version is different to that of the EU and different to another across Asian nations.  California’s Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record for its residents is different to the Excelsior Pass program in the state of New York!  It is a complex issue but each government is working hard to make their version acceptable to all others.

How you can protect your Vaccine Passport data

There is value to criminals in this personal data program.

Gary Lineker wrote recently about a text message ‘from the NHS’ offering to help him get his certificate but actually phishing for personal data.

Here are some tips on how to keep your data safe in relation the VP.

  1. Do not do what others have done and share a social media post of your Vaccine Passport.  If a hacker can grab and decipher it from your feed then they can pretend to be you! (If you’ve shared one already then go back and delete it).
  2. Watch out for scammers . If you have your Vaccine Passport then don’t believe anyone else can help you beyond what you have already for free. The Gary Lineker story is just one of many scam attempts using the confusion around COVID-19 as their cover.  Do not respond to SMS or emails.  Do not click to find out more. Delete it all and do not respond.
  3. Keep up with the news on this topic in the UK.  It is currently changing all the time but it is good to know what you can and can’t do with your VP.  The NHS and the BBC would be good places to consult.  Beware of fake news and conspiracy theories on the social networks.
  4. Have a look at your credit report.  With so many data breaches going on at the moment it would be a wise move to double check none of your data from any of them has influenced the credit rating of you, or your children.  It will give you a quick snapshot of anything unusual going on that could cause you trouble down the line or lead to something as agonising as identity theft.  There is a comprehensive Which article with your options here.
  5. Protect your devices.  Protect your family.  This is an obvious one but the Vaccine Passport is a certificate that gets stored locally on your phone (or within an  email on your laptop).
    Every day features to protect your device from pickpockets or someone who picks up a lost phone.  (Do a quick Google search on “Lock my iPhone/Android”).  Go one step further and install some comprehensive security and anti-virus software to protect the devices from local and remote hackers.


IPS 360 Protect provides a great value way to access Norton’s solution, plus some other unique tools we’ve created.

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