Credit: Lukas F via Unsplash

International students shouldn’t be excluded from the vaccine passport initiative

By Rothery Sullivan

The decision to require vaccine passports for club entry does not accommodate those vaccinated in countries outside the UK, causing unfair stress for international students.

From 18 October, clubs and large venues have required proof of double vaccination via a vaccine passport. Consequently, this has caused worry for many international students who have not been vaccinated in the UK. At first, this app seemed like a step in the right direction; it would ensure safety for those in crowded spaces and would ease the anxiety about catching the virus when going out. However, you can only get a vaccination passport if you have been vaccinated in the UK, which fails to consider all the international residents who have been vaccinated in other countries.

I was offered the Moderna vaccine in America in January 2021; of course I took it, after seeing that I wasn’t likely to get both vaccine doses in Scotland until the end of summer 2021. The Moderna vaccine is one that has been approved by the NHS and is proven to have the same effectiveness as Pfizer and more effectiveness than the Astrazeneca. My two doses of the Moderna vaccine should be equivalent to the vaccines distributed by the NHS – a vaccine’s effectiveness is not influenced by where it was given.

Vaccine passports are a new concept, which is likely why the exclusion of vaccination from other countries has been overlooked. It can be difficult to validate someone’s proof of vaccination – how can an app be sure that your vaccine certificate is genuine if it was not distributed by the NHS? However, I think that Scotland could follow the methods of other countries by agreeing that an NHS passport is not the only way to prove double vaccination. While it would be difficult for every bouncer to memorise vaccination documents from different countries, it’s not impossible for them to be trained on this; they have to be able to validate IDs from different countries anyway. 

My biggest issue with this situation is the lack of clear communication from the government. As of yet, there has been no clear statement about what people who were vaccinated abroad are supposed to do. With the vaccine passport rule expected to take effect in less than a week, many international students are confused and stressed that their social lives will go down the drain. Some of us speculate that venues will accept our proof of vaccination as long as we also show proof of residency for the country the vaccine was given in (for example, I would have to show my CDC certificate in addition to my US passport), but this has not been clearly stated nor confirmed. 

While it’s not a necessity to be able to go to clubs, concerts and larger events, it is a large part of the social scene in Glasgow. I know that the government is trying to reduce Covid-19 cases while still allowing clubs to stay open, but I think that they should not have enacted rules until they were certain of how they could include everyone. It’s not right to exclude international students from events because they were vaccinated elsewhere, especially when the vaccination distribution in the UK has been so slow. Like me, many people got vaccinated in their home country for their own safety – they shouldn’t have to miss out on nights out, birthday celebrations or social events because of this. 


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