Covid vaccination card could 'unlock lives and economy'
Britons who have been given the Covid-19 vaccine will be given a card that will "unlock" people's lives and the economy, a government minister has revealed. People who been immunised with the Pfizer/BioNTech shot are set to receive the cards as proof they have been vaccinated, Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly said.
Asked if the cards were a "passport" to allow immunised people to enter places that otherwise might be prohibited to them, Mr Cleverly told Sky News: “It’s about unlocking people’s lives, it’s about unlocking the economy, it’s about making sure we protect lives and protect livelihoods.”
He added: “Ultimately, it’s about making sure that there is a wide roll-out and confidence in that roll-out.”
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Downing Street dismissed the prospect of NHS vaccination cards becoming a form of “immunity passport” to allow people who have received the jab to enjoy extra freedoms.
“We have been clear that there are no plans to introduce immunity passports,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“The cards … are NHS reminder cards that prompt people to get the second dose that they need.
“That’s a well-established practice in the NHS to offer people cards to remind them of their next appointment.”
The cards serve as a reminder for people to have their follow up jab 21 days after their first to give them better protection against the virus.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove had previously said there were no plans for an "immunity passport" for people to prove they have received the coronavirus vaccine.
"What we want to do is to make sure that we can get vaccines effectively rolled out," Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast at the beginning of December.
He added: "Of course, individual businesses have the capacity to make decisions about who they will admit and why.
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"But the most important thing that we should be doing at this stage is concentrating on making sure the vaccine is rolled out."
Mr Gove's comments came after Nadhim Zahawi, the minister responsible for the rollout of a vaccine, said it would not be compulsory to receive and injection but pubs and restaurants could demand to know if a customer has received a coronavirus jab before permitting entry.
Vaccinations are to be administered at dozens of hospital hubs from Tuesday – reportedly dubbed “V-Day” by Health Secretary Matt Hancock – with people aged 80 and older, care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk at the front of the queue.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, enough to vaccinate 20 million people with the required two doses.
There are 800,000 doses in the first tranche, meaning 400,000 people will be vaccinated initially.
There are 50 hubs in the first wave of the vaccination programme in England, with more hospitals starting to vaccinate over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up.
It is not known when exactly all 50 hubs will receive vaccine doses, as they are starting to administer the jab at different times, but deliveries are expected throughout the week.
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The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that getting people to return for the second dose could be a “key challenge”.
Helen Donovan, professional lead for public health at the RCN, told BBC Breakfast: “Well, the key thing that we know from other vaccine programmes is actually making sure that people come back for that second dose and making sure that we factor that in with the appointments that people are given, because it’s a 21-day gap between the first dose and the second dose of the vaccine.
“So I think that’s the key challenge.”