Booster jab will be needed for Covid pass in future, Sajid Javid hints

Health secretary suggests France-style crackdown on the cards, saying ‘We will have to look at what constitutes vaccination’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 11 November 2021 16:33
Sajid Javid suggests booster jab needed for Covid pass in future

Older people will face restrictions on their freedoms in future if they choose not to have a Covid booster jab, the health secretary has suggested.

Sajid Javid hinted the government is considering adopting a crackdown similar to that in France – which will require a third dose in order to be classed as “fully vaccinated” on the country’s health pass.

The pass is required for entry to bars, cafés, restaurants, leisure centres, tourist sites and long-distance trains, by providing either proof of vaccination or of a recent negative Covid test.

Asked if making a third jab part of a Covid pass is “something that you might look at”, Mr Javid replied: “We’re not looking at that yet.

“I think, in due course, we will have to look at what constitutes vaccination, but at this point the most important thing is that anyone that’s eligible gets out there and gets their booster.”

Pressed on whether the curb could be introduced “potentially in the future”, the health secretary told Sky News: “I can’t rule that out.

“We know now that the vaccines do wane and it’s important that, where it’s necessary, that those people get a top up. I think it’s something that we have to keep under review.”

Covid passes have been introduced in Wales – and are now being extended to cinemas and theatres – while Scotland requires proof of double vaccination for crowded venues.

A similar plan was shelved in England, but is part of the government’s ‘plan B’ should Covid hospitalisations and deaths rise sharply over the winter.

If introduced, it would require proof of vaccination for “indoor crowded settings with 500 or more attendees such as music venues or large receptions”, including all nightclubs.

The events would be those where people “are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households”, the winter plan set out.

“Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees” and “any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia” – including top football matches – would also be covered.

But places of worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and “other commemorative events” would be exempt, as would protests and “mass participation sporting events”.

In the meantime, Covid passes are required for international travel – which would be the most likely are for a booster jab to be required.

In interviews, Mr Javid faced down criticism of his decision to make vaccines compulsory for staff in England, from next April.

“We know that people in hospital, they’re already very vulnerable, and the last thing they want is to be exposed to Covid-19 when it could have been prevented, and that can be fatal for them in that condition,” he said.

“I think, ultimately, this is the right call - it is the duty of the NHS and the government to do everything that we can to protect vulnerable people.”

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