International students missing out on social life because vaccination isn't recognized
International students from outside the European Union who were vaccinated against Covid-19 in their home country are often unable to go out in the Netherlands because they can't get a QR code for a coronavirus access pass, student unions LSVb and ISO said to NU.nl.
Since Saturday, everyone in the Netherlands aged 13 or older have to show a coronavirus access pass in the catering industry, the arts and culture sector, and for events and sports events. The app with which access codes are scanned, the CoronaCheck app, only accepts the Digital Corona Certificate (DCC) standard, which is used the EU and in some non-EU countries, but not all of them. The United Kingdom and United States, for example, do not use this standard.
Students who were vaccinated in a country that does not use the DCC standard therefore cannot get a coronavirus access pass QR code based on their vaccination status. If they want to go to a bar or festival or museum, they'll have to get tested for Covid-19. Negative test results are valid for 24 hours.
"That is a problem," ISO chairperson Lisanne de Roos said to NU.nl. "In this way, this group is excluded from activities in which they can make contact with other students, something that is very important for international students, especially at the start of the academic year."
LSVb chair Ama Boahene pointed out that international students already have a hard time in the Netherlands, for example when it comes to finding housing. "If students also cannot easily participate in social activities, exclusion and loneliness threatens."
The unions don't know how many international students are affected, but stressed that this does not matter for the urgency of the problem. "It is important that vaccination certificates from outside the EU are also approved. That has to happen really quickly," Boahene said.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, which is responsible for the CoronaCheck app, told NU.nl that the Ministry is aware of this problem and working on a solution. "It is only a constant trade-off between vulnerability to fraud and convenience. If you approve a foreign vaccination certificate, you indicate that you have complete confidence in how the vaccines were administered and that they belong to the right person," the spokesperson said.