People will need to be provided with the ability to certify that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, Matt Hancock has said.
The Health Secretary told MPs that “it is clear” individuals will need a way to prove they have received the vaccination, but stressed that those who cannot have the jab for medical reasons will be taken “into consideration”.
Need for certification
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The UK government has faced mounting pressure from Conservative MPs to avoid introducing Covid passports to allow people to travel domestically around the UK, over fears it will punish those who cannot be inoculated for medical reasons.
Speaking during a ministerial statement in the Commons, Conservative Sir Edward Leigh said: “I received an email from a lady this morning who is extremely clinically vulnerable and she, for perfectly good medical reasons, can’t receive a flu jab or a Covid jab.
“So she is very concerned she won’t be able to leave her front door if we bring in Covid passports.”
In response, Mr Hancock said that a decision on issuing certification is currently under review and will take into consideration those who have a certified clinical reason as to why they cannot have the vaccine.
He said: “The point about certification is an important one and whilst the decisions on certification are being currently reviewed in a review led by Michael Gove, it is clear that we will need to provide people with the ability to certify whether they have had the jab.
“And we will need to absolutely take into consideration those who have a certified clinical reason why they can’t have the jab – which does apply to a relatively small number of people – but it is an important consideration that will be taken forward as part of that work.”
Covid passports under review
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has been tasked with leading a review into the potential use of Covid vaccine passports as part of the road map to easing lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that a study into the use of vaccine and testing certificates will be one of four reviews conducted as part of easing the current restrictions, and said that the use of vaccine passports for international travel was more than likely.
Some other countries around the world have already started working towards introducing these kinds of measures, with the European Commission announcing on Monday (1 March) that it will be submitting a proposal for digital Covid vaccinations to be implemented across the EU.
The Digital Green Pass will provide proof that a person has received a coronavirus jab, alongside test results for those who have not received a vaccine.
In Estonia, the UN’s WHO health agency is working to implement an e-vaccination certificate, also known as a “smart yellow card”, while Denmark is also developing a digital vaccine passport.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said that, in the same way that Yellow Fever certificates exist for travel to some countries, “there may well be scope for vaccination giving people the ability to do certain things that, without vaccination, they might not be able to do”.
Mr Johnson added that there are “deep and complex issues” that need to be explored in regard to introducing vaccine passports, and the subject is still under review.