Millions of people who have had a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine are now able to prove this via the NHS app.
Travellers who have had an extra jab will be able to display their vaccination status on the NHS Covid Pass from midday on Friday, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.
The feature will enable those who have had their third dose to travel to countries including Israel, Croatia and Austria where there is a time limit for a vaccine to be valid to skip quarantine.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the move aims to make it easier to travel abroad.
He said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to show their vaccine status if they are travelling abroad.
“This update to the NHS Covid Pass will mean people can have their complete medical picture at their fingertips if they are going on holiday or seeing loved ones overseas.
“Getting a top-up jab is our best defence against this virus and I urge all those who are eligible to come forward and get boosted.”
More than 13 million booster vaccines and third doses have been delivered across the UK so far, and the programme was extended to those aged between 40 and 49 this week.
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said people can book appointments up to a month before they are eligible for the booster.
She said: “Getting a booster is the best way you can protect yourself ahead of winter and it’s great those who have come forward can now demonstrate their vaccination status through the NHS Covid Pass if they are travelling overseas.
“It has also never been easier to book your booster, with walk-in sites open across the country and appointments available to pre-book a month before you are eligible for your top-up.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, welcomed the app’s latest development, but said the Government must also “urgently” update it so that teenagers can show their vaccine status, too.
He told the PA news agency: “Adding the booster certification to the app is a major step forward today.
“It gives a confidence boost to those who were putting off booking for the Christmas period and it now means they can travel with their vaccine status up to date.
“But it’s not the end of the story, we need to see the Government update the app urgently for those aged between 12 and 17.
“Those who are fully up to date with the available vaccines, and that includes teenagers who have had one vaccine because that’s all they’re allowed, should have the gift of being able to travel without worry.”
Fiona Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, said the app still needs to distinguish between third doses and boosters for people who are eligible for both.
She said: “People who are immunosuppressed and have had their third dose, and people who have kidney disease and are starting to receive their booster dose, will welcome the fact that the NHS Covid pass now shows that they have received three doses.
“However, it is disappointing that the system shows the third vaccine as a booster dose only and doesn’t yet show whether this third vaccine is a third primary dose or a booster dose.
“Given that changes would have been made to enable this latest update, we’re frustrated that more hasn’t been done to ensure records are accurate.
“This may well cause issues in the next few months as it’s very likely that those who are immunosuppressed and who have had a third primary dose will then be offered a booster.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, welcomed the development but said there was still “a long way to go” to ensure travel is simplified and the sector can recover from the pandemic.
He said: “This is a welcome step that will provide further assurance to vaccinated travellers looking to get away.
“We’ve seen great progress in recent weeks with reopening international travel, not least because of the success of vaccination programmes at home and abroad.
Ensuring travel is as straightforward as possible is vital to the recovery of UK aviation
Tim Alderslade, Airlines UK
“However, we still have a way to go to return to pre-pandemic levels of demand.
“Ensuring travel is as straightforward as possible is vital to the recovery of UK aviation, and so moving quickly to enable travellers to show proof of booster vaccine status if it is required is absolutely the right move.”
Thomas Cook also welcomed the news.
A spokesperson for the travel agent said: “It’s great news that the Government is allowing the latest vaccination status to be shown in the app to enable people to demonstrate their status.”
Booster doses will not be added to the domestic Covid Pass because it is not currently a requirement for travel within the UK.
It will also not be necessary to show evidence of a booster for travel into England.
Almost 20 million people have accessed the Covid Pass via the NHS app since it was launched on May 17, the DHSC has said.