The Scottish Government is yet to make a decision on domestic vaccine passports, an adviser has said, as the UK Government announced their rollout south of the border.
Dr Nicola Steedman, a deputy chief medical officer in Scotland, said there are still equality issues regarding the rollout of such certifications and any decision will be based on whether the Scottish Government views their use as the “right and equal thing to do”.
She also warned against the use of perceived coercion in ensuring people get vaccinated, saying the decision to have a Covid-19 jab should be up to the individual.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said vaccine passports will be employed for entry into nightclubs from September.
Dr Steedman told Good Morning Scotland: “We haven’t made any decision at this point on domestic vaccine certification… I don’t think it’s possible to say (when a decision will be made) at this time.
“What we do need to do is to go on the evidence and look very carefully at the equality and the ethical and logistical issues of this.”
Dr Steedman later conceded that a decision will have to be made soon due to the forthcoming August 9 deadline for Scotland to move beyond Level 0 of coronavirus restrictions, but she added: “We are very alert to the need to make decisions as quickly as we possibly can, but that doesn’t mean we hurry them to make the wrong decision.”
Asked if the infrastructure is available in Scotland to launch such a scheme, Dr Steedman said: “If that was the correct thing to do, clinically and ethically, then, yes, I believe Scotland does have the ability to do that.
“It’s not that that is influencing the decision, it’s about whether or not we believe this is the right and equal thing to do.”
According to the Times on Tuesday, less than half of men under 30 in Scotland’s cities have received their first dose of a vaccine.
Asked if a passport scheme could increase vaccine uptake, Dr Steedman said: “In theory it might, and clearly that’s something other nations have used to increase the uptake in their vaccination programmes, but we have to balance that very carefully against people feeling as though they’ve been forced into something or coerced.
“We really want young people to be vaccinated but we want it, ideally, to be their choice, so we don’t believe in using coercion to encourage people to be vaccinated, we want them to do it for the right reasons.”
She added: “You can put it whichever way you like – you can see it as encouragement or you can see it as being a risk that people feel that they’re being forced into something, and we would really want to know what the public and what our stakeholders think about that.
“We also want to ensure that no-one would be disadvantaged by that sort of policy before we put it into practice.
“Clearly there are some people that can’t be vaccinated but there is also, certainly in Scotland still, individual choice.”
Gavin Stevenson, vice chairman of the Night Time Industries Association Scotland, said it would be “highly problematic” if clubs were required to admit only the double-vaccinated, adding: “By August 9, let’s be honest, the majority of young people will not have been offered their second vaccine.
“We think that would be very discriminatory for many people that have not had the chance to have a second vaccination, or indeed that may perhaps be medically unable to take a vaccination.
“It would be highly problematic if this were to be implemented on August 9.”