Now that the first COVID-19 vaccination is being rolled out across the UK, every resident that receives a jab will be given a special card with a message on the front urging people to keep it ‘in their purse or wallet’.
The news of the cards undoubtedly generated quite the concern that they could end up becoming the driving force behind a black market for fakes if stores, theatres and hospitality venues were required to check for them.
And, it seems those concerns have been validated as one TikTok user has been spotted advertising fake vaccine cards in a series of videos.
The account which had appeared on the platform earlier this week advertised the fakes for £5 each.
In the clips, the account holder could be seen showing off the counterfeits which were a spitting image of the real cards, and including the link to a Shopify page where the cards could be purchased. The shop has since been taken down.
Images of the card seem to be identical to the real thing with the same message on the front as well as space for the name of the vaccines, dates and batch numbers on the rear side. However, it is unclear how the cards were manufactured.
A TikTok spokesperson has released a statement claiming that the account which had only appeared a day prior, had been taken down:
These videos have been removed for breaching our community guidelines, which make clear we do not allow scams or misinformation, including vaccine misinformation, which could cause harm to people on TikTok or the wider public.
Not to be confused for an ID card
Downing Street has denied any plans for a vaccination passport and claim that the cards are merely intended as a record of vaccination. Public Health England confirmed:
Patients who get the #COVID19 vaccine will be given a vaccine record card. The card notes details about the patient's jab, and their appointment date for the second dose. Similar cards are given out for other NHS vaccinations. The card is not intended for any other purpose.
The statement came after a message was posted on Twitter by the UK’s independent fact-checking service Full Fact who shared a warning saying:
We've seen widespread claims in the media that the government has introduced a 'vaccine passport'. It hasn't. The new NHS card cannot prove you have been vaccinated as it doesn't have any personally identifying details.
However, Liberty, an advocacy group based in the UK have expressed fears that the cards could eventually result in a vaccine passport. The passports would have the possibility of splitting the country into two tiers, those who have had the vaccine and those who haven’t, with the latter likely to be ‘shut out’. Advocacy director of Liberty Grey Collier spoke to MailOnline about the issue stating:
Suggestions people must carry cards on them raise questions about whether we could be asked to use them to prove immunity. Beyond that it's unclear what they're for.
Once cards like these have been created it would be easy for their use to be extended so they can be used like an immunity passport. This could result in people who don't have a card potentially being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised among us hardest hit.
Collier continued to state that vaccination cards could lead to the very eventuality that has been rejected countless times for potential human rights violations:
This has wider implications too because any form of immunity passport could pave the way for a full ID system – an idea which has repeatedly been rejected as incompatible with building a rights-respecting society. We have always supported proportionate action to protect lives, but that must not come at the expense of our rights and freedoms.
Downing Street has strongly denied the plans for the cards to be used as ID, stating that they are merely a reminder for the recipient to get their second dose. A spokesperson for PM Boris Johnson stated:
The cards are NHS reminder cards that prompt people to get the second dose that they need. That's a well-established practice in the NHS to offer people cards to remind them of their next appointment.
The concern comes at the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was introduced to the UK just last week. The vaccine is the first to roll out in the UK with 800,000 doses intended primarily for the elderly and NHS workers with more vaccines to be introduced next year.
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