Couple barred from Malta after having Indian-made version of AZ jab

British couple, 63 and 64, are turned away from flight to Malta despite having TWO jabs after receiving Indian-made version of AstraZeneca vaccine that is still not licensed by EU

  • Steve and Glenda Hardy were barred from flying to Malta by TUI at Manchester
  • Couple unknowingly received a version of jab made at Serum Institute of India
  • European Medicines Agency does not yet recognise the SII version of vaccine
  • This means a handful of EU countries will turn travellers away if they received it 

British travellers are being turned away from flights after receiving an Indian-made version of the Astra- Zeneca vaccine that is not licensed in the European Union.

It emerged this month that, without being informed, up to five million Britons had received jabs made by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

The vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organisation, but not by the European Medicines Agency, meaning it is not accepted yet by the EU vaccine passport scheme.

Some European nations have unilaterally pledged to accept the jab, but Malta – which is 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 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.

Steve and Glenda Hardy, who received SII doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March, were turned away from their flight to Malta 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.

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

TUI refunded the Hardys’ tickets after turning them away but the couple were devastated

Mrs Hardy, 63, said: ‘We were just gutted. We thought we’d covered ourselves – we paid for PCR tests, downloaded the NHS app and printed off the letter – but we fell at the final hurdle. I feel like we’re in limbo.

‘We haven’t seen our son since he moved there a year ago. We had our flights refunded by TUI, but that’s by the by. Our big fear is that we just don’t know when we’ll be able to go to Malta.’

Mr Hardy, 64, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘When we took our vaccine… we didn’t know what we were getting.

‘We trusted the Government on that. Boris Johnson said that there were no Indian vaccines issued in this country. That’s obviously a lie because it’s on our page.

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


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.

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.

To apply for a physical pass letter you can visit the NHS website by clicking here.

Or you can download a digital version on the NHS App or the online Covid Pass service.

Those who were given the jab will have the numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 or 4120Z003.

‘The problem is the fact that we can’t see our son. We jumped through the hoops… and then we were hit with this.

‘It was just devastating. What the hell are we supposed to do?’

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.’ 

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