COVID-1984: Wales to Introduce Coronavirus Vaccine Passport Cards

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 10: Protesters with placards gather outside the Scottish Parliament entrance to demonstrate against new coronavirus restrictions, face covering rules and the search for a virus on October 10, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The group, known as Saving Scotland, said "with the threats of more lockdowns and …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Chinese coronavirus vaccine passport cards will be issued by the government in Wales, the country’s left-wing health minister confirmed on Wednesday.

Following the announcement that the United Kingdom would be the first Western nation to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething declared that the government of Wales will be handing out credit card-sized vaccine passports to those who have received the jab.

In a statement, Mr Gething said: “Those receiving a COVID-19 vaccination will be given a credit card-sized NHS Wales immunisation card which will have the vaccine name, date of immunisation and batch number of each of the doses given handwritten on them.”

“These will act as a reminder for a second dose and for the type of vaccine, and it will also give information about how to report side effects,” he added.

The announcement comes amidst concerns that British businesses will begin requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of patrons entering their establishments after the UK’s new vaccine minister Nadim Zahawi said on Monday that venues may bar people from entering without an immunity passport.

The British government has reportedly been developing so-called “freedom passes” that would allow those who have tested negative for the Chinese virus a greater degree of liberty, including travelling without a mask and being able to visit their family members.

The nominally Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been reported to be developing “vaccine stamps” for British passports for international travel to be introduced next year.

In response to the announcement that Wales will be adopting vaccination IDs, Conservative MP and former Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones told the Daily Mail that “it is not really surprising” given the “authoritarian” tendencies of the Welsh government during the pandemic.

“You would hope that these cards are not expected to be carried, and if people want to throw them away then they should be entitled to,” Jones said, adding: “We don’t want to get to the stage where government are requiring people to carry cards.”

Grey Collier of the human rights campaign group Liberty said: “Any form of immunity card raises more questions than it answers. It is currently unclear how these cards will be used, and whether people could be asked to use them to prove they have immunity.”

Collier said that the introduction of any such vaccine cards could be easily expanded by the government into fully-fledged immunity passports, explaining: “This could result in people who don’t have a card potentially being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised among us hardest hit.”

On Monday, the British government announced that it has approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, a remarkable achievement given vaccines can typically take years to produce and then approve.

According to Wales Online, some 40,000 injections will be delivered to Wales from Belgium in the first delivery to the UK, comprising of 800,000 jabs in total. The two-dose requirement will mean that some 20,000 people in Wales will be vaccinated during the initial rollout.

Mr Gething said that the vaccine will not be made mandatory in Wales, however, last month British Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out making coronavirus vaccines mandatory in the United Kingdom.

The Australian airline Qantas has already announced that an immunity passport would be required to travel on their aeroplanes, and if more businesses take up such requirements, a government mandate would be made irrelevant regardless.

Follow Kurt Zindulkq on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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