Thank you for contacting me about the Coronavirus vaccine. I understand that you are concerned about the vaccine becoming mandatory, and that the introduction of so-called ‘vaccine passports’ would essentially have the same effect.
It should go without saying that we all have bodily autonomy. 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.
With that said, I do recognise that the government recently made the vaccine mandatory for those who work in care homes. When this proposal was put to a vote in the House of Commons, the Labour Party voted against it. During a debate of the proposal on 13th July, Labour’s Shadow Minister, Rosena Allin-Khan, made a great speech in which she outlined why we could not support the legislation. You can read her speech in full here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-13/debates/BD25E3D7-6EFB-48A9-A564-966D3898D8FC/NationalHealthService
The following comments in particular encapsulated Labour’s approach:
“The UK Government should learn from the fantastic work of the Labour-led Welsh Government, who are running the fastest vaccine programme in the world and have vaccinated a far greater proportion of their staff than England; yesterday’s figures showed that almost 95% of care home residents and 88% of care home staff are double vaccinated. Wales has rejected compulsory vaccinations and instead chosen to work closely with the care sector to drive take-up, as well as valuing the workforce with a proper pay rise. That is the sort of leadership that is needed here.”
When it comes to vaccine passports, I believe that there is a difference between domestic vaccine passports and international vaccine passports.
International vaccine passports are nothing new. It has been compulsory for many years for people to provide proof of vaccination against a number of tropical diseases when they travel to some countries around the world.
However, we in the Labour Party are not convinced that requiring people to present domestic vaccine passports to enter nightclubs, for example, is the right solution. We need to take a more test-driven approach.
I hope that this email has summarised my views on this important issue. Thank you again for getting in touch with me. You are welcome to contact me again if you have any further matters you would like to raise with me.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury
Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade