The NHS app will go live as a vaccine passport for international travel from Monday, but only for those who have had both doses.
People who do not use smartphones can phone 119 for a paper letter confirming their vaccine status but have been urged not to ask their GP.
Downing Street promised yesterday that the app would be able to show vaccination status in time for people to be able to use it when the ban on foreign travel is lifted on May 17.
The app will not show coronavirus test results but it is hoped that they will be incorporated by the time domestic Covid status certification is due to be introduced for mass events on June 21.
The NHS app was set up to allow people to book appointments and repeat prescriptions online and allows people to see their full medical records.
NHSX, the health service’s technology unit, has been working on tweaking the app so that vaccine data is pulled out of medical records and shown on a separate screen that can be presented to officials. People must register to use the app and the government is advising people to do so at least two weeks before they travel abroad. As an alternative they can apply for a paper letter but this is available only five days after the second dose and will take a further five days to arrive.
“From May 17, you may be able to show your Covid-19 vaccination status as proof of your status when travelling abroad,” the government website said.
“You can access your Covid-19 vaccination status through the free NHS App from May 17. You can access the app through mobile devices such as a smartphone or by tablet. Proof of your Covid-19 vaccination status will be shown within the NHS App. We recommend you register with the app before booking international travel.”
It adds that: “Demonstrating your Covid-19 vaccination status allows you to show others that you’ve had a full course of the Covid-19 vaccine when travelling abroad to some countries or territories. A full course is currently two doses of any approved vaccine.”
The advice says: “Do not contact your GP surgery about your Covid-19 vaccination status. GPs cannot provide letters showing your Covid-19 vaccination status.”
Boris Johnson has been considering domestic use of the app to ensure that mass gatherings can resume and venues such as nightclubs can reopen safely, with pilot events expected to show what level of precautions will be required.
Many Tory MPs have been uneasy about the prospect of people being required to show their papers before being allowed into venues and last night Johnson promised he would be “saying more later this month about exactly what the world will look like [in the summer] and what role there could be, if any, for certification”.
A review led by Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, is due to report next month on how and where people would be expected to prove they had been vaccinated, tested negative, or had antibodies against Covid-19. Test-and-trace information is held on a different database, making it more challenging to incorporate into the NHS app.