Thank you for contacting me about the Coronavirus vaccine.
The news that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have been approved for use in the UK gives us all hope that life may soon return to normal. I am, of course, delighted that Coronavirus vaccines have been approved for use in the UK and that the rollout is now well underway.
Many constituents have been in touch with me about the vaccine. I understand that you are particularly concerned about mandatory vaccinations and the introduction of so-called ‘immunity passports’. I would like to address your concerns below.
There were early reports in the UK that many people, including here in Islington South and Finsbury, were hesitant to take the vaccine. Now that the rollout is underway, vaccine hesitancy does not appear to be as widespread as we first thought. Uptake of the vaccine has been high among those who have been offered it, which is very reassuring. A lot of vaccine hesitancy exists because of harmful misinformation, especially online, that the government has not done enough to dispel. In the Labour Party, we are calling for the government to introduce emergency legislation to penalise social media companies which fail to “stamp out dangerous anti-vaccine content”.
It should go without saying that we all have bodily autonomy. With that said, I want to make it clear that nobody has to accept the Coronavirus vaccine if they do not want to. Accepting the vaccine is an entirely voluntary and individual choice.
As things stand, the government does not currently have any plans to introduce so-called ‘immunity passports’ or place restrictions on those who do not take the vaccine. I understand that you are particularly concerned about this issue. Whilst we cannot predict whether such restrictions will be introduced in the future to ensure that the vaccine is as effective as it can be in protecting all of society from the virus, it is not true that they are in place now.
With every vaccination that is administered against this terrible virus, we become ever closer to restoring the old way of life I know we all miss so very much.
Thank you again for contacting me about this important subject. I hope that you and your family are keeping safe and well. If you have any further points you would like to raise with me about this issue, or indeed any other, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry
Islington South and Finsbury