Vaccine passports: 600,000 set to be excluded from venues when Scottish law comes into force

The Scottish Government’s vaccine certification scheme is due to come into force on 1 October but campaigners warn it will create a “two-tier society”.

More than 600,000 people across Scotland look set to be excluded from music concerts, football matches and nightclubs when the Scottish Government’s highly controversial vaccine certification scheme comes into force on Friday (1 October).

Young people in Scotland will be one of the most affected groups.

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Analysis by NationalWorld reveals around half of unvaccinated people in the country are aged 18 to 29.

Human rights advocacy group Liberty said the Scottish Government will create a “two-tier society” which ignores the concerns of marginalised groups.

Who will be affected by the law change?

Data sourced from Public Health Scotland shows an estimated 617,834 people, or 14% of Scotland’s population, were still not fully vaccinated against coronavirus as of 27 September.

The country’s major cities have the greatest proportion of people not fully vaccinated.

Almost a quarter (23%) of Glasgow City council area’s  over 18 population (119,000 people) look set to be affected by the impending law changes. The city has the greatest proportion of people not fully vaccinated against the disease in the country.

Thousands remain unvaccinated elsewhere too. More than 41,000 people (22% of the population) in Aberdeen City are not fully vaccinated, along with  more than 91,000 people in Edinburgh, representing 21% of the population.

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Not all councils are lagging behind though. East Dunbartonshire has double jabbed 95% of its population, leaving just over 4,000 left to go. This is followed by East Renfrewshire which has double vaccinated 93% of its population.

The figures also reveal an age and gender divide across the country with young people set to be the most affected by the law change.

Analysis by NationalWorld shows more than 307,000 18 to 29 year olds are still not double vaccinated –  40% of men and 34% of women in that age group are not double jabbed.

Across all age groups a higher proportion of women have been fully vaccinated than men. The figures show 87% of the over 18 female population have received both doses, while 85% of the adult male population are double vaccinated.

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There are exemptions to the scheme — under 18s, participants in vaccine trials and people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will all be exempt. People who work or perform in venues will also be exempt.

‘Coercion and threats’

Vaccine passports remain highly controversial. Human rights group Liberty warns they will have the greatest impact on marginalised groups where access to healthcare and vaccination information is already uneven.

Jodie Beck, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said not everyone has the same access to healthcare and information on vaccination and called on the Scottish Government to change course.

Ms Beck said: “This vaccine passport is creating a two-tier society, and directly excluding hundreds of thousands of people who haven’t been able to get both jabs, or have concerns about receiving the vaccine.

“Vaccine passports ignore the concerns of some of the most marginalised people, people on low incomes and from minoritised communities, and threaten to shut them out of public life.

“Rather than more coercion and threats, a key way of maximising take up of the vaccines is better education to support and empower people to give informed consent, with a full understanding of the risks and benefits to themselves and others.

“The Scottish Government must change course, and focus on ensuring wide access to vaccines, and providing the support and resources needed for everyone to stay safe.”

What does the Scottish Government say?

The Scottish Government declined to respond to Liberty’s concerns.

However, in an earlier statement Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "This is a very limited scheme and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.

"The two-and-a-half weeks – effectively a grace period – before legal enforcement applies will allow businesses to test, adapt and build confidence in their own practical arrangements to comply with the scheme.

"I also want to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible and particularly to increase uptake in the younger age cohort, so anything that helps to incentivise that is helpful.”

What are the new rules?

The Scottish Government’s vaccine certification scheme is due to come into force on Friday 1 October.

But earlier this week Nicola Sturgeon announced that venues will have two weeks to test and adapt the scheme before the measures are legally enforced.

It includes late night venues open after midnight with alcohol and music and dancing; unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience; unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience; and any event which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.

Proof of vaccination can be accessed from the NHS Scotland Covid Status App from Thursday 30 September. It is also available on the NHSinform website.

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