Guide dog owner challenged at vaccine centre reveals 'healthcare inequalities for blind people'

'You can't trust it's read it correctly', Nathan Foy explains to ITV Wales Reporter Charanpreet Khaira why vaccine cards are not accessible for blind and visually impaired people

A man who said he was refused entry to a Covid vaccine centre because of his guide dog is highlighting the challenges blind and visually impaired people face when accessing the jab.

Nathan Foy, from St Mellons, said he was initially refused entry with his guide dog, Mason, by staff at a vaccine centre in Cardiff.

He said many others have struggled to understand letters sent to them and have been unable to travel the distances required to get the jab.

Mr Foy, who was born with congenital glaucoma in both eyes, is calling for information and services to be made more accessible.

The RNIB said it has already campaigned for more accessibility but "little progress has been made".

It claimed that "their needs have been forgotten", adding that people with sight loss across Wales are having to rely on others to enable them to get the jab.

More than 2,296,500 people in Wales have had their first dose of the vaccine. Credit: PA Images

Mr Foy explained how staff at the vaccine centre responded to his arrival with guide dog Mason.

"I tried to show my letter to show I'd come for the vaccine.

"He was insistent that dogs couldn't come in, so I explained that it was a guide dog, and he said 'well you can come in with a scooter'. He wasn't willing to let me pass the front desk."

He eventually managed to gain entry, but believes his experience of struggling to access the jab is not unique.

"If you were a new guide dog owner, new to sight loss, and you were told to leave quite forcefully I think you would leave.

"It's a privilege to be able to have a vaccine - it's been proven how life saving they can be.

"Essentially you could be saying to someone, 'we're going to deny you the chance to have something that might save your life'."

More than two million people have had both doses of the Covid vaccine in Wales. Credit: AP

The Welsh Government said it has worked with the RNIB to make accessible appointment letters, and that health boards provide support to those with visual impairments.

But the RNIB believes more action is needed. Wales director Ansley Workman said: "The information is there - the support is there.

"Public Health Wales and the health boards have been extremely open. But it's just not filtering down into every vaccine centre."

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has apologised for Mr Foy's experience, and have said they are making sure staff are reminded that people attending with a guide dog should be allowed to enter.

They added that their mass vaccination centres are equipped for those who are visually impaired.

My Foy added: "I think it's about the awareness of someone running any kind of business, venue, charity - what would you do if a guide dog owner turned up?

"Are your staff aware enough to offer the right kind of support? Because I'm not sure that this now is for us solely as guide dog owners and guide dogs organisations."

Having the vaccine can make it easier to travel abroad. Credit: PA Images

Getting vaccinated against Covid can make it easier to travel abroad.

From Monday, those who are double-jabbed are not required to quarantine when entering the UK from the US and most EU countries.

Travellers will be required to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before the second day after their arrival.

Those returning from France - regardless of vaccination status - must self-isolate for 10 days and take tests on day two and eight.

The exemption from quarantine for double-jabbed travellers also applies to Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and Vatican City.