The EU vaccine ‘passport’ and what it means for travel

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The government says it’s confident travel to EU countries by UK citizens – jabbed with an Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine – won’t be affected, even though the Indian manufacturer has not been approved by the European Union.

In India, the AstraZeneca (AZ) jab is made by the Serum Institute – normally under a different brand-name, Covishield.

The Department for Health and Social Care says no Covishield vaccines have been administered in the UK.

Were Covishield vaccines shipped to the UK?

Most of the UK’s supplies of the AZ vaccine come from plants in north Wales and Staffordshire.

But five million doses were shipped from India as part of the UK’s 100-million-dose AZ order.

The batches were produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) – but the Department for Health says they were not called Covishield.

Did I get one of the Indian-made jabs?

If you received the AZ vaccine, it’s possible,

A quick way of checking which batch you have had is to look at the paper card you were given after vaccination.

The person who jabbed you should have written the batch numbers in boxes on the back.

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image captionBatch numbers are written on the back of your NHS Covid-vaccination card

You will also see batch numbers listed on NHS Covid Pass letters which show you are fully vaccinated, and which you will need when travelling abroad to some countries.

You can see a digital version of the letter on the NHS App.

image captionBatch numbers will also be on NHS Covid Pass letters

That’s the AstraZeneca vaccine name recognised by the EU’s medicine regulator – the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

  • Oxford-AstraZeneca (AZ) (also known as Vaxzevria)
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (also known as Comirnaty)
  • Moderna (also known as Spikevax)
  • Janssen (sometimes referred to as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) is the same as in the UK

I’ve had the Indian-made jab, can I go to the EU?

Your paperwork may show Indian-made batch numbers, but the Department for Health says: “All AstraZeneca vaccines given in the UK are the same product and appear on the NHS Covid Pass as Vaxzevria.”

“The European Medicines Agency has authorised this vaccine and we’re confident travel will not be affected.”

But is the NHS Covid Pass accepted there?

The NHS Covid Pass is not yet accepted by the EU as bloc – but some individual countries, such as Greece and Spain, are already accepting it.

The government hopes it will soon be accepted as a “vaccine passport” – letting people cross borders more easily, with less need for quarantine.

If it’s satisfied the NHS pass complies with EU standards and systems, it can decide to accept it.

Where can I get the NHS Covid Pass?

It can be accessed via the existing NHS app.

For people aged 16 and over in England, the digital version shows proof of:

  • vaccination
  • a negative PCR or lateral flow test in the past 48 hours
  • recovery from Covid-19

How does the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate work?

The European Union’s vaccine “passport” is being rolled out across all 27 member nations – plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

  • been vaccinated against Covid-19
  • recently had a negative PCR test for the virus
  • recently recovered from Covid-19

Anyone holding a certificate should, in principle, be exempted from testing or quarantine when crossing an international border.

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The individual’s data remains on the certificate and is not stored or retained when it’s verified – at an airport, for example.

Some countries had already been using the certificate on a voluntary basis – but it was officially introduced on 1 July with a six-week phase-in period.

Can I get one?

Only EU citizens, as well as non-EU nationals legally staying or living in the member states (with the right to travel to other member states), can download it or obtain a paper copy – at no cost.

It is not a travel document and travellers will still need to carry a passport or another form of identification.

If you are an EU national who was vaccinated in the UK, it is up to your home country whether you are eligible for the EU certificate.

Why is Covishield not EU-approved?

But the EMA hasn’t needed to approve it because the EU isn’t receiving any doses from the site in India where it’s manufactured.

The Serum Institute is understood to be seeking emergency EU authorisation for Covishield.

AstraZeneca also says it’s working with the EMA on the “inclusion of Covishield as a recognised vaccine for immunisation passports” – although the EMA says there is currently no application for market authorisation.

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