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2 Dec, 2020 12:49

Wales to issue Covid-19 ‘immunisation card’ to those who receive Pfizer jab, triggering fears of ‘vaccine ID’ regime

Wales to issue Covid-19 ‘immunisation card’ to those who receive Pfizer jab, triggering fears of ‘vaccine ID’ regime

Wales has announced that people who receive the newly-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be given a card that provides details about the jab, sparking rumors and theories that the government was creating a new form of ID.

The UK became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, in this instance developed by US-based Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, and hopes to begin administering the drug by next week. In a statement outlining how the jab would be distributed in Wales, Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething announced the creation of “a credit card-sized NHS Wales immunisation card” that will be issued to those who’ve been inoculated against the virus.

The card will contain “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,” the statement read

Although the government plan makes no mention of the card serving as official identification or proof of vaccination, news outlets employed some creative framing while reporting on the story. 

“People in Wales will be issued ID cards to prove they have had the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine,” LBC News tweeted. It appears the outlet later deleted the message.

The internet was quickly swarmed with comments warning of bio-dystopia. Many argued that the “card” was proof that the “conspiracy theorists” were right, apparently in reference to fears that government measures aimed at containing Covid-19 have led to dangerous overreach. 

Several comments warned that history would not look kindly upon the new immunisation cards. 

“Giving people a marker, to indicate ‘desirability’ never went bad, did it?” sarcastically quipped one observer.

Still, there were plenty of others who accused LBC of sloppy reporting. Big Brother Watch, a UK organisation that defends civil liberties and privacy rights, noted that there was no indication that the handwritten card would serve as an official document. 

“This appears to be a misleading & irresponsible headline about an immunisation reminder card,” the group wrote, adding that it would take action if the Welsh government ever decided to issue such an ID. 

Fears that a vaccine ID card could become a reality in the future are not without merit. On Monday, the UK’s newly appointed vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, suggested that people will have to show they’ve received the Covid vaccine if they wish to return to normal life.

A day later, however, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove denied that there were plans to create a Covid-19 vaccine passport system which could allow bars, cinemas, restaurants and sports venues to refuse entry to people who haven’t been inoculated.

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