The so called "vaccine passports" should not be used as a requirement for international travel at the present time due to practical and ethical considerations, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official has said.

Addressing a press conference this week, WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan said that "at the present time the use of certification of vaccination as a requirement for travel is not advised because quite simply vaccination is just not available enough around the world and is not available certainly on an equitable basis."

His comments come at a time when several countries are considering vaccine passports for international travel.

The WHO official said that if access to vaccine is not equal then inequity and unfairness can be further branded into the system.

While vaccination drives against Covid-19 have started in several parts of the world, access to vaccines, especially by poor and middle income countries, has been a major issue.

The strategy of using vaccine passports at the present time, therefore, has the potential to further create a new divide based on vaccine access.

Kate O'Brien, Director for Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO, said that the UN agency is supportive of electronic vaccination certificates for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the efficiencies of time, the accuracy of the information, the link to the products that have been received.

"It facilitates assessment programmes on safety of products. It allows parents or individuals who have been vaccinated a greater autonomy on those records for their own use."