The UK health secretary Sajid Javid says that he cannot rule out the possibility that people over-65s who have not had a covid booster jab could be denied access to public spaces, including public transport and restaurants, at some point.
Insisting that the Government was not looking at the measure just “yet”, Javid said he could not rule out the measure being introduced at a later date.
Javid made his comments during a Sky News interview on Wednesday when he was asked to react to the introduction of such a policy in France.
MSM reports: A Downing Street source later said the policy was not being actively pursued but added that the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic meant few potential measures could be ruled out.
The comments come amid a tussle between ministers and Tory backbenchers about the possibility of bringing in Covid passports. Boris Johnson announced plans for only those who have been twice jabbed to be allowed to enter venues with large crowds, but they are being held in reserve in case the Covid situation deteriorates.
Asked about France’s booster vaccines policy, Mr Javid said: “We’re not looking at that yet. We are very focused on our booster programme, as you would imagine.
“Over 10.6 million boosters, I think, throughout the UK so far already, a record number of bookings, many people coming forward.
“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.”
Asked whether that meant the policy could be introduced in future, Mr Javid said: “I can’t rule that out. And I think that we know now that the vaccines do wane and it is important that those vaccines, where it’s necessary… that those people get a top-up. But I think it’s something that we have to keep under review.”
Booster jabs, a third Covid vaccine dose, are being offered to those aged over 50 or in vulnerable groups.
There has been concern in recent weeks that not enough people who are eligible are coming forward to claim their boosters, with uptake slower than for the first two doses of the Covid jabs.
People have to wait six months from their second dose before being allowed to take their booster jab, though the Government has tweaked the rules to make this easier in recent months.