And we thought being double vaxxed meant something...

fr.stephen

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Posts
22
I am currently in London, and was scheduled to return to SYD on 6th December.

Today I received one of those dreaded messages from the NHS advising that I am contact of a COVID positive person.

No problem, thinks me. In some senses, I'm a little surprised it took so long.
After all, everyone has been telling us for months now that Vaccination is the way back to normalcy.

And I had been reading every page I could find before travelling on a daily basis to make sure I had covered all the bases.
And people who have been double vaccinated are not required to self-isolate.
Well, not exactly.

Whilst for entering the country, the Australian Vaccination Certificate is what they wanted to see, for the purposes of isolation requirements, only vaccines administered in the UK are recognised. Therefore I am treated as if I am not vaccinated at all, and must self-isolate for 10 days from last date of exposure.

This is a huge GOTCHA for anyone who has not been vaccinated in the UK - because, as I said, there is a very good chance you will be exposed to a positive case, and indeed everyone has been telling us this was the whole point of getting vaccinated.

My last day of isolation is the 7th, however as I need to get the within 72 hours PCR test for flying back to Australia, I think my best bet will be to take a 3 hour Rapid PCR test on the 8th, with the aim of flying on the 9th. That is, presuming I can get a seat.

The gotcha is here:

The incriminating quotation is this:
"Fully vaccinated means that you have been vaccinated with an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccine in the UK and at least 14 days have passed since you received the recommended doses of that vaccine."
 

Telemachus

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I am currently in London, and was scheduled to return to SYD on 6th December.

Today I received one of those dreaded messages from the NHS advising that I am contact of a COVID positive person.

No problem, thinks me. In some senses, I'm a little surprised it took so long.
After all, everyone has been telling us for months now that Vaccination is the way back to normalcy.

And I had been reading every page I could find before travelling on a daily basis to make sure I had covered all the bases.
And people who have been double vaccinated are not required to self-isolate.
Well, not exactly.

Whilst for entering the country, the Australian Vaccination Certificate is what they wanted to see, for the purposes of isolation requirements, only vaccines administered in the UK are recognised. Therefore I am treated as if I am not vaccinated at all, and must self-isolate for 10 days from last date of exposure.

This is a huge GOTCHA for anyone who has not been vaccinated in the UK - because, as I said, there is a very good chance you will be exposed to a positive case, and indeed everyone has been telling us this was the whole point of getting vaccinated.

My last day of isolation is the 7th, however as I need to get the within 72 hours PCR test for flying back to Australia, I think my best bet will be to take a 3 hour Rapid PCR test on the 8th, with the aim of flying on the 9th. That is, presuming I can get a seat.

The gotcha is here:

The incriminating quotation is this:
"Fully vaccinated means that you have been vaccinated with an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccine in the UK and at least 14 days have passed since you received the recommended doses of that vaccine."
A pretty clear case of left and right hand between different government agencies. That link is published by UKHSA whereas elsewhere on Gov.UK there is this guidance from DfT & DHSC on proof of vaccination which (as you will know) lists multiple countries whose vaccination programmes and documentation are recognised by HMG. In your situation I would challenge this inconsistency which looks like an oversight rather than a conscious decision to recognise AU vaccination for immigration but not isolation purposes. Best of luck and do let us know how you fare.
 

HappyFlyerFamily

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Posts
5,011
How awful.

Sounds like something to be double checked.

So are European/US administered vaccinated persons also considered unvaccinated in the UK for the purposes of close contact isolation?
 

fr.stephen

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Posts
22
I contacted the Australian embassy, and they agree that my best case scenario is the way to go, so I have re-booked my flight for 9th December. An extra $250 in Y.
 

Telemachus

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I contacted the Australian embassy, and they agree that my best case scenario is the way to go, so I have re-booked my flight for 9th December. An extra $250 in Y.
Glad you have a more or less acceptable solution. A bit more research reveals that the discrepancy (between recognition of non-UK vaccination for immigration but not for exemption from isolation) is recognised by HMG as an issue and is being fixed. This from the Independent on 19 Nov:

View attachment 266371

So, if that 1 Dec date for implementation is correct then your non-UK proof of vaccination should have exempted you from 10 days of isolation. One might have hoped the Australian High Commission (not Embassy) would be up to speed on this.

In any case, knowledge of the change may provide some reassurance for other foreign-jabbed visitors currently in the UK, and for prospective travellers including this one.

EDIT: However, from 1 Dec vaccinated close contacts of an Omicron case have to isolate for 10 days irrespective of the country where the jabs were received. See this article.
 
Last edited:

Must...Fly!

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Does left hand talk to the right hand there? Stupid question I know. I would've just got the negative test and left the country...
 

Telemachus

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Glad you have a more or less acceptable solution. A bit more research reveals that the discrepancy (between recognition of non-UK vaccination for immigration but not for exemption from isolation) is recognised by HMG as an issue and is being fixed. This from the Independent on 19 Nov:

View attachment 266371

So, if that 1 Dec date for implementation is correct then your non-UK proof of vaccination should have exempted you from 10 days of isolation. One might have hoped the Australian High Commission (not Embassy) would be up to speed on this.

In any case, knowledge of the change may provide some reassurance for other foreign-jabbed visitors currently in the UK, and for prospective travellers including this one.

EDIT: However, from 1 Dec vaccinated close contacts of an Omicron case have to isolate for 10 days irrespective of the country where the jabs were received. See this article.
Another day, another rule change but this is a genuine improvement. The promised amendment to the SI came into force on 9 Dec though the Gov.UK guidance hasn't yet caught up. So there is now no discrimination against foreign vaccination in the treatment of close contacts for isolation. They have removed the anomaly (which had been there since 16 Aug) by specifying that vaccinations under the UK overseas programme are acceptable, and by aligning the definition of 'authorised vaccine' with the long list of recognised countries and proof of vaccination documents previously enacted for arrivals from overseas.

This removes some but not all of the risk of 10 days' mandatory isolation if one were to be identified as a close contact. We are now in the same boat as UK-vaccinated people, which though good news in principle means the 10 days of isolation will still apply (for the time being) to close contacts of an Omicron case.

Cold comfort to this thread's OP and to others caught up in the unjustified categorisation of all foreign-immunised people - in the context of isolation of close contacts - as though they were unvaccinated.
 
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fr.stephen

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Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Posts
22
Well I am glad to report I am back home, now doing my 72 hours home quarantine.
I'm not assuming the saga is over though, there is so much COVID going around in Europe that the chances of there being a positive on the plane, or even worst case contracting it are very real. So lets hope and pray the 72 hours is all it ends up being.

I would certainly not recommend people travel overseas at the moment for fun. If you have a real need to go, go, but flexibility in your plans will definitely be needed.

I am glad to hear that Aussie vaccines are now recognised in the UK for purposes of isolation, however as Telemachus notes, if Omicron is suspected, you have to isolate anyway.

The ATD form is clunky and I'm not sure if anyone actually knows what it is for or how to apply it.
I had it crash on me several times.

And, it asks (very last question) Are you a close contact of a positive case within the last 14 days.
Remember you are supposed to complete the ATD no less than 72 hours before travel.

So in my case, even though I had completed the 10 day isolation, I was still within the 14 days and hence had a RED ATD.
If I wanted a green ATD it would have to be 14 + 3 = 17days after exposure.

I rang Qantas and made sure they were happy for me to travel, and they made a note on my booking stating I had been cleared to travel.
When I checked in at the airport I just "happened" to have the screen scrolled down so the RED bit wasn't visible. (Just to save having to tell the story AGAIN)
All they checked was that I had an ATD. No questions at check in.

I got my first ever point upgrade to Business on the Kangaroo route, which was nice!
(I did get an unsolicited upgrade to Premium back in 2019 from SIN to LHR - it was the first revenue flight of the first upgraded A380 back in service - my tray table was missing the wooden top cover!)

Anyway, coming through immigration, they obviously had a flag in their system.
The agent said their system was saying I'm not vaccinated, which is not true.
I had to fill a form out, and show her my vaccination certificate, and the ATD.
She noted that the ATD was red, and got her supervisor.
I held my breath.
The supervisor had a clipboard which she looked at (names, perhaps), then the first lady came back and said "you're good to go"
So off I went to the baggage hall to discover the baggage belt had decided to stop.
Fortunately, as I was in J my bags were on the belt, so off I go, and home by 20:05.
 

OATEK

Established Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2013
Posts
4,522
Well I am glad to report I am back home, now doing my 72 hours home quarantine.
I'm not assuming the saga is over though, there is so much COVID going around in Europe that the chances of there being a positive on the plane, or even worst case contracting it are very real. So lets hope and pray the 72 hours is all it ends up being.

I would certainly not recommend people travel overseas at the moment for fun. If you have a real need to go, go, but flexibility in your plans will definitely be needed.

I am glad to hear that Aussie vaccines are now recognised in the UK for purposes of isolation, however as Telemachus notes, if Omicron is suspected, you have to isolate anyway.

The ATD form is clunky and I'm not sure if anyone actually knows what it is for or how to apply it.
I had it crash on me several times.

And, it asks (very last question) Are you a close contact of a positive case within the last 14 days.
Remember you are supposed to complete the ATD no less than 72 hours before travel.

So in my case, even though I had completed the 10 day isolation, I was still within the 14 days and hence had a RED ATD.
If I wanted a green ATD it would have to be 14 + 3 = 17days after exposure.

I rang Qantas and made sure they were happy for me to travel, and they made a note on my booking stating I had been cleared to travel.
When I checked in at the airport I just "happened" to have the screen scrolled down so the RED bit wasn't visible. (Just to save having to tell the story AGAIN)
All they checked was that I had an ATD. No questions at check in.

I got my first ever point upgrade to Business on the Kangaroo route, which was nice!
(I did get an unsolicited upgrade to Premium back in 2019 from SIN to LHR - it was the first revenue flight of the first upgraded A380 back in service - my tray table was missing the wooden top cover!)

Anyway, coming through immigration, they obviously had a flag in their system.
The agent said their system was saying I'm not vaccinated, which is not true.
I had to fill a form out, and show her my vaccination certificate, and the ATD.
She noted that the ATD was red, and got her supervisor.
I held my breath.
The supervisor had a clipboard which she looked at (names, perhaps), then the first lady came back and said "you're good to go"
So off I went to the baggage hall to discover the baggage belt had decided to stop.
Fortunately, as I was in J my bags were on the belt, so off I go, and home by 20:05.
Thanks for taking the time to let us know about the various speed humps in OS travel - it helps many of us in our decision making.
 

Telemachus

Intern
Joined
Sep 10, 2021
Posts
90
Qantas
LT Gold
Virgin
Red
I am glad to hear that Aussie vaccines are now recognised in the UK for purposes of isolation, however as Telemachus notes, if Omicron is suspected, you have to isolate anyway.
Some further good news to note. The UK Plan B measures announced by Boris at his presser on 8 Dec include the replacement of 10 days’ isolation for Omicron close contacts with a requirement instead to take daily LFD tests. I missed this in initial media reports about the Plan B stuff but it’s now getting more attention e.g. New self-isolation rules explained: how daily Covid testing will stop isolating under Plan B.

This is the HMG intent and is not yet law. Unlike other recent amendments to the relevant SI the proposed Plan B changes have to be passed by Parliament and may be debated on Tue 14 Dec. They seem likely to become law quickly as no-one wants to see another ‘pingdemic’ with a large part of the population directed to isolate.

This is excellent news for me and for other AFF members booked to fly to the UK within the next couple of weeks; and of course for everyone else over there. High up on my personal risk register has been the risk of someone on my flight testing positive for Omicron, resulting in me becoming a close contact and sentenced after arrival in the UK to 10 days in the cooler from Christmas until New Year.
 

HappyFlyerFamily

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Posts
5,011
Some further good news to note. The UK Plan B measures announced by Boris at his presser on 8 Dec include the replacement of 10 days’ isolation for Omicron close contacts with a requirement instead to take daily LFD tests. I missed this in initial media reports about the Plan B stuff but it’s now getting more attention e.g. New self-isolation rules explained: how daily Covid testing will stop isolating under Plan B.

This is the HMG intent and is not yet law. Unlike other recent amendments to the relevant SI the proposed Plan B changes have to be passed by Parliament and may be debated on Tue 14 Dec. They seem likely to become law quickly as no-one wants to see another ‘pingdemic’ with a large part of the population directed to isolate.

This is excellent news for me and for other AFF members booked to fly to the UK within the next couple of weeks; and of course for everyone else over there. High up on my personal risk register has been the risk of someone on my flight testing positive for Omicron, resulting in me becoming a close contact and sentenced after arrival in the UK to 10 days in the cooler from Christmas until New Year.
If it requires Parliamentary approval some unexpected allies might join forces to defeat any new measures - isn’t covid mild enough yet??
 

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