People in Wales are to receive an ID-style card to prove they have been vaccinated for coronavirus, it was announced today.
Health minister Vaughan Gething revealed the move as he hailed news that that Pfizer jabs have been approved by UK regulators.
The cards will include the date of immunisation, with the Labour-run Welsh government insisting it will serve as a ‘reminder’ about when individuals need the second dose.
However, they raised fears of an ‘authoritarian’ crackdown with pubs, shops and other public venues able to demand to see the proof before people are given access.
UK government ministers have dismissed the idea they are preparing official ‘immunity passports’ that would allow people to return to normal life once they have received a jab.
But vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi suggested earlier this week that although the jabs will be voluntary, businesses could ask to see proof before allowing people in.
In a statement to the Welsh parliament, 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.’
UK regulators today approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass vaccination to start in just days.© Provided by Daily Mail Health minister Vaughan Gething revealed the move as he hailed news that that Pfizer jabs have been approved by UK regulators© Provided by Daily Mail
Officials said the jab — which the UK has ordered 40million doses of — will be made available ‘from next week’ as Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared ‘help is on its way’.
Department of Health and Social Care officials made the announcement just after 7am this morning, as England left its second national lockdown and shops reopened for ‘wild Wednesday’.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine has been shown to block 95 per cent of coronavirus infections in late-stage trials, with equal efficacy among younger volunteers and those over 65 who are most at risk from Covid.
Mr Hancock declared the end of the pandemic was ‘in sight’ today, revealing that 800,000 doses of the jab will be available next week — enough to vaccinate 400,000 people because it is administered in two shots — but conceded the bulk of the roll out won’t happen until the New Year.
He said: ‘The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week. The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply.’
Mr Hancock revealed those ‘who are vulnerable from Covid’ will be first in line, meaning care home residents and workers will be first to be contacted — despite claims NHS workers would be first.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: ‘Significant news this morning.
‘Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this a reality.
‘Our vaccine programme is ready to go, but the impact won’t be seen nationally for some months.
‘In the meantime, we all must continue to follow the rules and protect each other.’
But Tory MP and former minister David Jones, who represents Clwyd West, said it was more evidence of the ‘authoritarian’ streak in the Welsh government.
‘It is not really surprising. The Welsh government has shown itself to be very authoritarian throughout this pandemic,’ he told MailOnline.
‘They have imposed a lot more restrictions than England.
‘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.
‘We don’t want to get to the stage where government are requiring people to carry cards.’
Mr Hancock urged England to abide by the controversial three-tier lockdown system that came into force today after being approved last night, saying the end is ‘in sight’ and that ‘we’ve got to keep people safe in the meantime’. He told BBC Breakfast: ‘From Easter onwards, things are going to be better and we’re going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy.’
Boris Johnson hailed the vaccine’s approval this morning, saying it would ‘allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again’. The Prime Minister tweeted: ‘It’s fantastic that @MHRAgovuk has formally authorised the @Pfizer/@BioNTech_Group vaccine for Covid-19. The vaccine will begin to be made available across the UK from next week. It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.’
Mass-vaccination is seen as the only way to put an end to the perpetual opening up and closing down of society through draconian lockdowns, which have had devastating consequences on the economy and wider health.
In total, Britain will receive 10million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine by the end of the year, enough to inoculate 5million people, with the remaining 40million doses due in the first quarter of 2021.
Government advisers met this morning to iron out a final vaccine priority list, following reports that NHS workers would now be first in line to be inoculated. The most recent guidance, drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), says care home residents and the staff who look after them should be prioritised.
However, Pfizer’s jab has to be stored at -70C which makes transporting the vaccine to care homes a logistical nightmare. Fifty NHS hospitals are already equipped with the super-cold freezers, which means health staff are likely to be immunised first.