NHS Covid pass down: what happened after ‘service unavailable’ glitch left app not working for passengers

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NHS Covid Pass lets users display their vaccination status and records

The NHS Covid Pass, a digital record of individuals’ vaccine records, has been fixed after a technical issue left British travellers struggling to check into flights.

Users trying to access proof of their vaccination status via the NHS App and website found that the service was unavailable to do so for hours on Thursday (18 August).

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Upon trying to use the app, users were met with the message: “We are sorry the NHS Covid Pass is currently unavailable.

“At this time there is no alternative route for accessing this information via the NHS App or online.

“If you have already downloaded the information then your access should not be affected.”

Here is all you need to know:

How long was the NHS Covid Pass down for?

NHS Digital tweeted they were investigating “urgently”, adding: “We apologise for any issues this may cause and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve it.”

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Issues with the app were first reported around 3.50pm and the service resumed working at 10pm - over six hours later.

A vaccine passport certificate. Picture: ShutterstockA vaccine passport certificate. Picture: Shutterstock
A vaccine passport certificate. Picture: Shutterstock

Why did the NHS Covid Pass go down?

The app was “unavaible” due to a technical issue on Thursday.

It resumed working as usual and users were able to access their vaccination records again after the technical issue was resolved.

What is the NHS Covid Pass used for?

The requirement for people to show the NHS Covid pass in the UK to visit indoor and outdoor events and venues, such as cinemas and nightclubs, was scrapped earlier this year.

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However, it is still used as a way for people to show their vaccination status when travelling abroad to certain countries.

Did it cause disruption?

On social media, several holidaymakers said they were struggling to check in for flights during the outage because they were unable to prove their vaccination status.

Jon May, 32, was supposed to be flying to Valencia from Bristol at 6am on Friday for a work conference – but when he tried to download his proof of vaccination on the NHS App on Thursday, which he needs to enter Spain, he found that it was down.

Speaking to the PA news agency before the app was fixed on Thursday night, he said: “I’ve had all three jabs, and I went to the NHS App… and it said ‘Service unavailable’. I was like ‘what do you mean, service unavailable? I’ve got a flight at 6am.’”

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Mr May, who works in marketing and is from Bristol, did not have any other documentation to prove he had been vaccinated and was nervous that he would be detained at the Spanish border.

“I have had all my vaccinations, I just can’t get the certification,” he said.

“I might get to Spain and be deported from Spain, and that would be really embarrassing.”

Fi Bartlett, 24, from Bournemouth, was unable to complete her online check-in for her flight to Malaga on Saturday without proof of vaccination and said she had planned to go to the airport with her paper vaccination confirmation if it had not been fixed in time.

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