The current vaccine certification scheme has been in operation for a number of weeks. Over that time it has likely contributed to a small rise in vaccinations amongst the younger age group. The public demonstrate a high awareness of the existing scheme and are generally supportive recognising the benefits it can bring while also expressing some concern around inequalities. Business organisations have reported negative economic consequences in terms of footfall and revenues along with staffing difficulties.
The impact of certification cannot be measured directly. However, as a measure to reduce the risk of an infectious person infecting others it is a far less restrictive measure than re-introducing capacity limits on venues, early closure times or complete closure of events. By itself it is not sufficient to control the virus but it contributes to a package that attempts to balance the harms.
Research evidence indicates including a wider range of settings may increase the usefulness of certification as a measure to reduce infection. Wider international evidence suggests that expanding the settings included in any certification scheme may encourage older individuals who are not yet vaccinated to take up the vaccine. While certification is unlikely to convince the most vaccine hesitant to be vaccinated, it may convince those who are currently indifferent.
Including a wider range of settings may also lead to a better understanding of the fact that the pandemic is still with us and continues to present a current threat. It will introduce some costs for a wide range of businesses. However, in a situation where cases are rising and hospitals are operating at capacity it allows higher risk settings to remain open as safely as possible, and to continue to trade. It may also provide a more sustainable basis for these businesses to continue to operate safely in the long run.
Vaccines are effective at reducing infection and therefore vaccine certification reduces the chances of an infected person being present in a particular setting. Time limited certifications would ensure that all individuals have a high level of vaccine protection while enabling them to enter higher risk settings. The introduction of the requirement for evidence of a negative Lateral Flow test as an alternative is not without risk as unvaccinated individuals will still be more vulnerable in a situation where others may be infectious and able to transmit. However, it addresses issues of human rights and equalities and could reduce the risk of infection in venues at this stage in the pandemic.
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