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Nairn woman pleads with English and Scottish health boards to 'talk' to each other over Covid vaccine passports

By Louise Glen

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Pamela Dudek. NHS Highland chief executive...Picture: Gary Anthony..
Pamela Dudek. NHS Highland chief executive...Picture: Gary Anthony..

A NAIRN woman is pleading with English and Scottish health boards to "talk" to each other over vaccine passports.

Sixty-seven-year-old Joan Jackson and her husband James (63) moved GP surgeries during the pandemic, and had their first vaccination in St Helens on Merseyside, and the second at home in Nairn.

But after trying and failing to get a vaccine certificate for a a holiday to Spain, the couple are pleading with NHS England and NHS Scotland to "get their acts together" and get their database systems talk to each other.

Mrs Jackson had her first vaccination in St Helens in March 2021, while her husband had his a month before, they had their second doses in Nairn within the prescribed time.

She explained: "We have lived in Nairn for four years, but due to being on a waiting list for an operation we made the decision to remain registered with our English practice so we did not have to move to the bottom of the waiting list.

"We didn't think it would be a problem as we live in the same country and we just assumed that we would be able to get a vaccine certificate. To get our second vaccination the GP in England sent through the paperwork to Nairn, and the GP practice gave us our vaccination.

"So the information is there in the Highlands for anyone to view. But when we went to get our vaccination certificate we found that the information was not available.

"We have been given another option of uploading the two confirmation letters that we have had our jabs, but it is still not a proper vaccination certificate."

She added: "We were invited to go to Spain, but we can not go because we do not have the proper vaccine certification. Although it has just been introduced we can not get the all important QR code to prove our status.

"We have written to our MSP Fergus Ewing, and he has been helping us, but he has been told the same as we have."

MSP Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn constituency said he had received a reply on the issue from NHS Highland.

In the letter, NHS Highland's chief executive Pam Dudek said that providing an effective vaccine certification system "has proved to be a challenge".
She wrote: "At a local level NHS Highland has centralised its arrangements for dealing with certification queries and many have been dealt with successfully. Since the programme, and many of the issues, are national rather than local, a national resolution team has been set up for Scotland as a whole to deal with issues."

She added: "However, I am afraid that there are some issues that the national or local teams cannot resolve at the moment since they rely on work across national boundaries with different systems and in some cases different vaccines."
Assuring Mr Ewing that work is under way between the agencies in England and Scotland to establish a common system, she said: "But this is not yet in place.

"We recognise the difficulties that this will cause for people. We are therefore arranging to send individual letters to those who have raised such issues with us confirming the vaccinations that have taken place within NHS Highland. We hope that this will be of some help to people, especially given that there is no common certification process yet in place."
Mr Ewing added: "They can currently provide individual letters to individuals who are raising this issue which confirming the vaccination that has taken place within NHS Highland.

"I am sorry that this is creating difficulties for these constituents meantime and hope this issue can be resolved as quickly as possible."

An NHS Highland spokesman declined to comment, saying it was a matter for the Scottish Government.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman, said: “If you have had one vaccination in Scotland and one elsewhere then you will need two documents: one from each country.

“We are working on a solution to provide a single dose vaccination status report and details on this will be announced in due course.”

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