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Practices not responsible for trial participants’ vaccine certification

by Jess Hacker
16 June 2021

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General practice is not responsible for providing vaccine certification for participants in Covid-19 vaccine trials, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

A DHSC spokesperson told Management in Practice that all participants involved in a vaccine study will receive a letter confirming their ‘protected’ status, and that these will be sent from the chief investigator or the local principal investigator for each trial.

They also said that ‘there is no direct engagement required with GP practices’ and Covid status certification uses vaccine records already held by the NHS.

Last week, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, had informed trial volunteers that their participation would not leave them ‘disadvantaged in terms of any future domestic vaccine certification’, if a scheme were introduced.

In his letter, Professor Van Tam said that the chief investigator or local investigator for each UK trial will shortly contact participants confirming their involvement in the trial.

This will confirm they have ‘the same “protected” status as someone who has received the approved vaccines’, he said.

He clarified that this applies to all volunteers, including those who have received an unlicensed vaccine or placebo as part of a trial, in addition to those involved in a ‘mix and match’ study.

He said: ‘Operationally, it will take a few weeks for the NHS to complete the programming work, but it will happen before the end of July.’

The NHS is currently working on a ‘technical fix in the next few weeks’ so that the NHS App displays a ‘green tick’ for trail members, as it does for fully vaccinated people.

He also said that the current Government position is that a vaccine should not be a requirement for travel ‘at this time’.

Increase in patient requests

NHS England had recently warned practices they may see an increase in patients requesting access to their digital health records to prove their vaccination status, with practice managers reporting a definite increase.

While there are currently no published plans to make Covid documents a requirement of entry to mass events domestically – despite several months of consideration – a recent survey indicated 37% of unvaccinated people would feel ‘more inclined’ to get a jab if vaccine passports were introduced.

This number rose to 43% if vaccine passports were introduced for international travel.