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A vaccine passport programme

In April 2021, the government decided to launch a COVID-19 immunity passport as a way to help get Britain out of lockdown.


An announcement was made that by 17 May 2021, people in England who had been fully vaccinated would be able to use the NHS app as a vaccine passport. A paper version would also be available.


Within 3 months of the NHS COVID Pass programme being created, over 10 million people were using the app.

In September 2021, Zone Digital, a customer experience agency for the multinational technology company Cognizant, was asked to help improve the service design for the NHS COVID Pass.


There was a possibility that domestic passes would be mandated and the service also needed to include clinical trial participants, children, residents in England who had been vaccinated overseas, and those who were medically unable to get vaccinations.


The service was guided by government policy and rapidly changing border entry requirements of countries around the world.

Service design

Client: NHS 

Agency: Zone / Cognizant

An inclusive service

While the NHS COVID Pass app looks simple, the service is complex. Sensitive clinical data is incorporated from vaccination centres, clinical trial sites, test results, and patient records.


Call centre services were created for people not able to access digital channels and special services had to be created for those who had been vaccinated overseas.


The service design included multiple touchpoint for multiple user groups: app, online services, paper services, 119 telephone services, and face-to-face services.


Working with service and content designers from Zone and various NHS divisions, I helped ensure that the service was inclusive.


It needed to be accessible to those who might not be able to access the internet as well as those who could but might need the aid of speech recognition software or a screen reader when using the service.


Communications were designed and created for websites, printed passes and letters, SMSs and emails. Vaccination centre staff also needed documented standard operating procedures.


Each was carefully governed with multiple sign offs from policy advisors, information governance teams, security experts, and the programme board.

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