Have you received doses of the Indian-made vaccine?
If you’ve received doses of the Indian-made vaccine and turned away from your flight, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
A British couple have been turned away from travelling to see their son in Malta after they were unknowingly given an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Steve and Glenda Hardy, who received doses of the vaccine in March, were barred from flying by staff working for travel operator TUI at Manchester Airport on Friday.
The retired couple, from Hull, were trying to visit their son, who they have not seen for over a year.
The European Medicines Agency does not yet recognise the vaccine which is made at the Serum Institute of India, even though it is just as effective as AstraZeneca doses made elsewhere.
As a result, it is not recognised by the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate which allows those who are fully vaccinated to move through Europe without having to quarantine or undergo further testing.
Some European nations have unilaterally pledged to accept the jab but Malta — one of a handful of countries on the Government’s green list of travel destinations — has not agreed to admit visitors who have had it.
It comes despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson assuring that it would not be an issue for Britons travelling around the EU.
Earlier this month, Mr Johnson told Sky News: ‘I see no reason at all why the MHRA-approved vaccines should not be recognised as part of the vaccine passports.
‘I am very confident that will not prove to be a problem.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today said Britons who received doses of the jab made in India should not be prevented from travelling.
Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast the Government will take up the issue with authorities in Malta, adding: ‘It is not right and it shouldn’t be happening.
‘The medicines agency, the MHRA, have been very clear it doesn’t matter whether the AstraZeneca you have is made here or the Serum Institute in India, it is absolutely the same product, it provides exactly the same levels of protection from the virus.
‘So we will certainly speak to our Maltese colleagues to point all this out. Obviously it is up to them what they do. But we will be making the scientific point in the strongest possible terms there is no difference, we don’t recognise any difference.’
It came as ministers were said to be considering taking the Balearic Islands off the green list and putting them back on to the amber list.
A couple were turned away by TUI at Manchester Airport because Malta would not allow them to enter after they were unknowingly given an Indian-made version of AstraZeneca vaccine
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today said Britons who received doses of the jab made in India should not be prevented from travelling. Mr Shapps told the BBC the Government will take up the issue with authorities in Malta, adding: ‘It is not right and it shouldn’t be happening’
TUI refunded the Hardys’ tickets after turning them away but the couple were devastated
Mrs Hardy, 63, said: ‘We haven’t seen our son for a year. My son and wife were both absolutely in pieces. I drove home and I still don’t know how I managed.
‘A TUI rep checked our certificates and we were told we couldn’t travel because Malta weren’t accepting the vaccine we had been given.
‘That was the first we had heard of it. We had done everything possible – we had paid for the PCR tests, we had downloaded the NHS app and printed off the letter – and we had been talking to TUI every day leading up to our flight.
‘It came as a surprise because we had been told weeks ago that none of the Indian-made vaccines were being issued here and then Boris Johnson said it would not be a problem.
‘People are going everywhere but we are not allowed to see our son in Malta because they are not accepting it.
‘We didn’t even know we had been given it. We just did what we were told – we went and got vaccinated.
‘It needs bringing to the attention of someone who can do something about it. Our MP says she is speaking with the vaccines minister.’
The European Medicines Agency does not recognise the vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India (SII), even though it is no less effective than other jabs. Pictured: Stock image
How to tell if you have had the Indian-made Astrazeneca vaccine
Every AZ vaccine administered in the UK will appear under the same name – Vaxzevria – in medical records and on the NHS app.
The only way you can find out if your jab was in India is by checking the batch number.
Those who were given the jab will have the numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 or 4120Z003.
This appears on the vaccination record card you will have received when you got your jab.
For those who did not hold on to their card, they can find the batch number on their NHS Covid pass letter, which can be downloaded online.
The letter is used for travelling abroad or going to mass events in future, which may require proof of vaccination.
You can get your pass letter if you’ve had two doses of the vaccine in England.
Or you can download a digital version on the NHS App or the online Covid Pass service.
The couple had to take their holiday in Llandudno, north Wales, instead after TUI refunded their flights.
Ten EU countries – Spain, Greece, Austria, the Netherlands, Estonia, Germany, Slovenia, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland – have dismissed suggestions that Britons jabbed with the SII AstraZeneca doses would be locked out of summer holidays.
But Malta will not accept it and France has suggested it might not either.
Travel advice on the TUI website says the SII jabs can be identified by their batch numbers, which are written on the card given after vaccinations and printed on NHS certificates proving inoculation.
TUI’s advice states: ‘Whilst the UK remains on Malta’s red list, entry will not be allowed if the vaccine batch on your certificate is from one of the following – 4120Z001, 4120Z002, 4120Z003.
‘Please check your vaccine batch before you travel.’
In a further blow for would-be holidaymakers, the Balearic Islands could be moved on to the amber list.
Just weeks after being declared Covid-safe, the islands of Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Formentera are on the cusp of being taken off the green list.
It means thousands of youngsters who aren’t fully vaccinated will have to isolate for ten days after returning from their breaks following a surge in cases.
The popular Spanish islands were added to the green list only three weeks ago – but travellers were warned that they could drop back to amber at any moment.
A final decision on the latest update to the traffic light system is set to be approved by ministers today.
But under rules coming in next week, double-jabbed Brits will still be able to take advantage of the holiday destinations without the need to quarantine on return.
However, this will not apply to younger people who have not had both jabs – and evicted Love Island stars who have not been fully vaccinated will be forced to isolate when they are booted out of the TV reality show villa.
Cases on the islands have soared to 258 cases per 100,000 people.
A source told The Sun: ‘It’s all still up for discussion, but the figures aren’t great, which is why it was on the watch list in the first place.’