VACCINATION AND IMMUNITY PASSPORTS
Thank you for your recent email, registering concern about the role of vaccinations in the roadmap announced by the Prime Minister to lift restrictions put in place to protect the country from Covid-19.
The purpose of vaccinating all adults, on a voluntary basis, is to protect everyone from a virus that can be fatal or wreak life-changing organ damage (so-called Long Covid) on people of all ages, irrespective of their health. The priority list has been drawn up to vaccinate the most vulnerable first, and there is clear evidence that it works incredibly well in preventing mortality and severe disease. Numbers of new cases among those who have been vaccinated are falling more rapidly than in the rest of the population.
No one will be forced to have it, but I would urge everyone to accept the vaccine when it is offered to them. It not only protects the person vaccinated from severe disease but also minimises the danger of asymptomatic transmission to others. Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must have gone through rigorous clinical trials and safety checks first – the UK has some of the highest safety standards in the world.
Turning to “vaccine passports” or immunity certificates, this is a complex issue. As set out in the Government's Roadmap, a review into COVID-status certification will take place. COVID-status certificates raise complex ethical and discriminatory issues that will need to be worked through.
For international travel, I suspect that countries around the world will require proof of Covid vaccination, in the same way as some already do for infectious diseases such as Yellow Fever. For internal use, they may be inevitable, although private-sector driven. I am sure that some people who have been vaccinated will want to go out and enjoy their new-found freedom, but will want to know that they do so in a safe environment.
We must be cautious, therefore, that we do not by accident create a situation where people under 50 who are at minimal risk are not caught in some enduring social exile as they await their jab.
There are other complex ethical and discriminatory issues that need to be worked through - suggestions of “No Jab, No Job” is just one. This is something I know the Government and the Prime Minister are conscious of and I welcome the fact that the Government is considering these issues fully as part of the review.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.