HEALTH Secretary Humza Yousaf has warned that Scotland has not followed other European countries in offering a negative test as an alternative to a vaccine passport due to fears over people “falsifying” results.
Scotland rolled out its controversial vaccine passport scheme on October 1 – but enforcement will not begin until October 18.
The policy means that in order to gain access into high-risk settings such as nightclubs and large capacity indoor and outdoor events, Scots must show proof of double vaccination or exemption.
Speaking at Holyrood’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee, Mr Yousaf praised the “roaring success” of the vaccination programme – stressing it is “our best way out of this pandemic”.
But the vaccine passport scheme made a stuttering start after the app people can download to prove their status was littered with issues, with Mr Yousaf telling MSPs that he “regrets and apologises for those difficulties”.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser pointed to a “backfire affect” raised by clinical experts over the vaccine passport scheme.
Mr Fraser said that by “making vaccine passports compulsory” to gain access to certain situations, it “could actually have unintended consequences”.
He added that by “making some people who are starting from a position of being distrustful” forced to sign up to the scheme in order to access certain situations, there are fears the policy is “making it less likely that will take up the vaccine”.
Mr Fraser asked the Health Secretary if the Scottish Government has given “serious thought to” allowing a recent negative test result as an alternative to having to prove vaccination status – as is the case in the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Yousaf said that the Scottish Government has “not ruled out a negative test” allowed to be used for entry “in the future” but he warned that there are issues around people falsifying results of a lateral flow test (LFT) in order to gain entry.
He said: “An unsupervised LFT can be abused.
“People can gain entry by falsifying a LFT.”
Mr Yousaf said that “in the two weeks after the announcement” to roll out vaccine passports, “there was a 10% increase in the uptake in the 18-29 age group”.
He stressed that officials need to “make the vaccine as accessible as we possibly can”.