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Debunked: No, you won't need a 'vaccination passport' to receive social welfare

The Department of Social Protection has confirmed that this is incorrect.

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A FALSE POST has been circulating on social media claiming people will need a ‘vaccination passport’ to receive social welfare. 

The idea is that social welfare would be denied to people who don’t get a Covid-19 vaccine. 

This is not true and has been confirmed as false by the relevant government department. 

The claim 

vaccine p False claim about a 'vaccination passport'.

The post shared on Facebook features an image containing the government’s yellow Covid-19 logo used in official posters and imagery related to the pandemic. 

The text in the image reads: “Please have your vaccination passport ready for collecting social welfare.” 

It claims that people will require evidence of having received a Covid-19 vaccine in order to collect social welfare. 

One post with this image and claim has been shared more than 150 times on Facebook with over 300 comments. 

Another post making this claim has been shared more than 130 times. 

The Department of Social Protection (DEASP) is responsible for social welfare in Ireland.  

In a statement issued to TheJournal.ie about this issue, the department said: “We can confirm that this message is incorrect and did not issue from the Department of Social Protection.”

Additionally, while a number of clinical trials have been shown to be successful in recent weeks, there is no Covid-19 vaccine currently available. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a strategy for the rollout of a vaccine will be presented to Government by 11 December. Martin said earlier this month that a vaccine should be available to the general public by the middle of next year, and earlier than that for priority groups. 

The government has not indicated that the Covid-19 vaccine would be mandatory for the population. 

Additionally, there has been no suggestion from any member of government or NPHET that vaccinations should be linked to social welfare. The claim has solely been made in social media posts pedalling conspiracy theories. 

Immunisation passports

Although this claim about a vaccination passport is incorrect, immunisation passports do exist but are not used in the same way as a regular passport. 

These are simply booklets which include details of vaccines you have received. 

The HSE has an immunisation passport booklet available online. It advises people to bring the booklets to any vaccine appointments. 

There has been a lot of misinformation surrounding vaccines throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaccines are not compulsory in Ireland but are strongly advised by the Department of Health. Parental consent is required for vaccines for children up to the age of 16.

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A 2018 study of the vaccination policies in 31 European countries showed that over one-third have at least some mandatory vaccinations in place. This is the case in countries like Italy, France and Poland, but not in Ireland. 

However, there has been some discussion of the issue in the past. Last year, the then-Minister for Health Simon Harris said he received preliminary advice from the Attorney General regarding mandatory vaccination in Ireland. 

In terms of a Covid-19 vaccination passport, the Department of Social Welfare said these will not be used to cut off social welfare payments from people who are not vaccinated. 

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

STOP, THINK AND CHECK 

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

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