I have received many letters and emails this week from my constituents in Beckenham expressing their concern over the possible introduction of vaccine passports in response to the new Omicron variant of the ghastly coronavirus. As I have made clear in previous posts, I am principally against such a move.
To be entirely straight I am not happy about any lockdown type restrictions being implemented again or indeed vaccine passports, for internal purposes at least, and I have made that abundantly clear to my whip. Actually I don’t think we will be going into a repeat lockdown or be forced to have vaccine passports. However, how I vote this week in the House of Commons will depend, as ever, on the specifics of what I am asked to vote on. It is often not what the media speculation suggests.
I do not believe that anyone will be forced by the state to have a specific vaccine passport although some venues, with the exclusion of pubs or restaurants, which admit large crowds will ask for proof of vaccine status or, failing that, a negative coronavirus test result.
Having just watched the Prime Minister’s address to the nation it is clear that the key to battling this new Omicron variant is for every adult to come forward and get a booster jab. From the limited data we have it appears that two jabs of the vaccine do not provide enough protection to be safe from infection and potential harm.
I welcome the government’s move to accelerate the booster programme and make it available to everybody over the age of 18 from this week; as long as it has been three months since their second dose. I strongly encourage everybody who is now eligible to go to the NHS website forthwith and book a booster slot at one of the many vaccination sites in their local area.
You are not just doing it for your own protection but also for those you love who you will undoubtedly wish to spend quality time with over the festive period.
It is true that we do not yet know how severe this new variant is; whether it is more or less harmful than the Delta variant which came before. What we do know is that it is a hell of a lot more infectious and that case numbers are doubling every 2-3 days, which will inevitably lead to more pressure being put upon the NHS during its busiest period of the year.
I understand the reasoning behind why the government has taken a cautious approach to the new variant. We simply do not have enough evidence on the impact it will have on society and given past experience in this pandemic, it is better to be safe than sorry.
The government has come in for a fair amount of criticism in the past for not acting quickly enough in light of growing evidence that the virus was spreading exponentially, knowing full well the deadly consequences of such a development.
Well that accusation, which I always believed to be misplaced and grossly unfair by the way, certainly cannot be levelled against ministers this time around!
To reiterate, I will study carefully what measures the government brings to the House of Commons this week before I decide how to vote but I do not think we will be having any vaccine passports or a repeat of any lockdown. But I do urge every adult to go and book your booster jab if they have not already done so.