The government has ruled out plans to issue “vaccine passports” which could enable people who have been inoculated against coronavirus to travel overseas.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that people could instead get evidence from their GP.
Some medical and travel experts back the idea of “vaccine passports” to allow a return to international travel – along with former UK prime minister Tony Blair.
The Greek prime minister has said he would welcome British holidaymakers if they could prove they have been vaccinated.
More than 11 million people in the UK have now received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccinate.
Zahawi had previously said that the government was “looking at the technology” to create vaccine passports – but speaking on the Marr show (February 7), he insisted that was not the plan.
He said there were several reasons why vaccine passports would not be introduced, not least because the vaccine was not mandatory in the UK.
Zahawi said vaccine passports would be “discriminatory” and it is not clear what impact they have on transmission of the virus.
He said people could talk to their GP if they needed written evidence to travel.
The Mail Online reported that many will have to pay for this, however, as doctors are able to charge for writing vaccine certificates, which fall outside their NHS contract. Practices can set their own fees, which can range from £15 to £30 for each document.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, tweeted: “Government has arrived at worst possible position on vaccine passports.
“Nadhim Zahawi, vaccine minister says gov won’t issue them, but people can ask their GP.
“So they acknowledge proof of vaccination likely needed, but they won’t provide it. Surely GPs have better things to do?”
The shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, told the BBC that vaccine passports “may be necessary” but he was more concerned with getting a comprehensive quarantine programme in place for arrivals into the UK.
Miliband said: “We should be open to this but there are complications to do this vaccine passport. Is it just for international travel? Is it for as you go about your business in your society?
“We still don’t have a plan for a comprehensive quarantine system, so let’s proceed a step at a time, and of course, look at the vaccine passport– but let’s get the quarantine right and let’s get the rollout right too.”
The first minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has also outlined concerns about the hotel quarantine scheme, saying it does not go far enough to prevent the importation of new strains of coronavirus.
The BBC reports that Greece has urged the European Commission to introduce a coronavirus vaccination certificate which would allow “the freedom of movement of persons who have been vaccinated”.
Furthermore, Estonia and the UN health agency are creating e-vaccination certificates known as a“smart yellow card”, and Denmark is developing a digital vaccine passport so citizens can prove they have had the jab.
Spain is compiling a database of vaccine refusers, which it will share with the EU, said the BBC.
However, some academics and human rights groups fear vaccine passports could discriminate against those who are waiting for the vaccine, cannot have it, or do not want it.
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