NHS COVID Pass for 12-15 year olds for international travel now available by letter with digital option expected next year
Fully vaccinated children who are going abroad can apply for an NHS Covid Pass for international travel from today.
But the document, which will confirm their vaccine status, will not be available digitally and parents will need to allow at least a week for the letter to arrive.
The move follows the government's decision to extend the vaccination programme and offer two doses of a coronavirus vaccine to all 12 to 15 year-olds.
Among the countries which now require children in that age bracket to be fully vaccinated in order to gain entry, avoid isolation or be able to enter particular venues are Spain and Canada.
Children remain exempt from certification in domestic settings and at the UK border.
Proof of their vaccination is going to be provided, at least initially, says the Department of Health via a letter that will include an internationally recognised 2D barcode. A digital alternative is planned but won't be rolled out until sometime early next year.
Families can request a letter for their child by calling 119 or via the website NHS.uk but are being warned to allow enough time for the document to be generated as each request can take up to seven days to be dispatched and received.
Health and Social Care secretary Sajid Javid said: "From today, I can confirm the NHS COVID Pass is being rolled out to 12-15 year olds for international travel, allowing even more people to be able to prove their vaccine status for travel where it’s needed.
"The move will enable families to plan holidays in 2022 with greater confidence, as parents can be reassured they will be able to evidence their child’s vaccination status once they have had both doses of the vaccine."
Chief Executive of NHSX Matthew Gould said children aged 12 to 15 can now book their second vaccine but must allow a 12 week gap between the two appointments.
He added: "This is another example of the NHS COVID Pass service responding to the changing situation, while maintaining the integrity of the NHS COVID Pass itself.
"The vaccination programme will be extended to offer all children aged 12-15 a second dose of an approved vaccine no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose following the government’s acceptance of JCVI advice on 29 November."
The issue of Covid passes for adults in domestic settings in the UK is set to be debated today as MPs discuss Boris Johnson's Plan B proposals.
But around 70 Conservative MPs are expected to resist the requirement for people to either provide their vaccination status or a negative test before entering indoor areas with significant crowds such as nightclubs.
The Plan B restrictions however are expected to be voted in as a result of support from opposition MPs with Labour having already said it will support the measures.