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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Covid in Scotland: ‘I’m double-vaccinated but can’t show the proof’

IDBS ART GALLERY

A woman who was vaccinated in England and Scotland says she cannot get an accurate vaccination certificate because of issues with data-sharing across health services.

Maura McGoldrick, 21, received her first dose in London and her second dose in Glasgow, where she currently resides.

Her vaccination record, however, only shows that she received one dose.

The fourth-year student at the University of Edinburgh is concerned that others may be affected in the same way.

The Scottish government stated that it was working to “align” vaccination data from across the United Kingdom.

The certificates are necessary for travelling abroad and could be used as part of a passport scheme to allow people into nightclubs and large events.

Scotland’s system has already seen problems including a recent security glitch and people being denied use of the pass in certain countries.

It has only recently been made available in the form of a QR code – despite a digital passport being widely used across Europe for months.

 

‘Hopeless situation’

Ms McGoldrick said she heard about the push for young people to visit drop-in vaccine clinics while travelling to London over the summer, and she attended a local clinic the next day.

The medics at the centre, she said, were unable to locate her NHS records, but they took her name and address and gave her a card with the batch number of the vaccine she had just received.

NHS England issue patients with cards detailing the vaccine batch number

Ms McGoldrick said she called NHS Inform right away to let them know she had received her first jab outside of Scotland, and she was told her records would be updated.

However, when she received her second dose in August in Glasgow, she was informed that the first dose was missing from her medical records.

She requested her vaccine certificate by mail, and the document once again showed one dose issued in Glasgow.

“Because of other things going on, it’s just compounded general stress and been emotionally draining,” Ms McGoldrick explained.

“I know it’s not the end of the world, and I’m very fortunate even to have the vaccine.”

“But now I’m at the point where there’s no one else to call, no more leads to pursue – it’s a bit of a hopeless situation.”

 

‘Working to resolve the issue’

Ms McGoldrick has been calling NHS Inform and her GP for more than two weeks in an attempt to resolve the issue.

She stated that her GP was able to obtain information on her vaccination in London.

However, she stated that NHS Inform staff informed her that there was no data-sharing mechanism in place between them and NHS England, and that they would have to request the information from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

The Scottish government denied the data-sharing claim, claiming that it has worked to “align” vaccination records from various UK nations.

According to a spokesperson: “We are aware that some people have had issues, but it is incorrect to say that there is no data sharing, and we are working closely with other countries to resolve the issue.

“We have a process in place for sharing data between England and Scotland, and we are continuing to collaborate with international stakeholders to improve data transfer across borders.

“The updated NHS Inform guidance contains information on what to do if you have been vaccinated abroad or in different parts of the UK.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde told the BBC that NHS Scotland certificates “can only contain information on vaccines administered in Scotland.”

It has yet to respond to a follow-up inquiry.

Ms McGoldrick is currently attempting to persuade the health board to share her GP’s information with NHS Inform, but she believes that others in her position may be unable to do so.

“Selfishly speaking, I’m trying to sort this out for myself, but I’m in the fortunate position of having time to chase this up,” she explained.

“However, I know there are other people in the same situation – NHS Inform stated that they had other people call about this but assumed they had sorted it out.” People have probably given up because it will require more time and effort than they have right now.”

Vaccine certificates with QR codes are widely used across European countries

Ms McGoldrick’s October plans to travel to Copenhagen – partly for leisure, but also to gain work experience for her university course in international relations – have been postponed as a result of her vaccine status issue.

She felt she was doing the right thing by getting her vaccine as soon as possible, but the bureaucracy and cancelled plans that resulted were a “bit of a blow.”

“It’s because we’ve been cooped up for so long,” she explained. “I felt like I’d done everything I was supposed to do after two doses.”

SourceBBC
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