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  • Writer's pictureMarc Pulisci

The Good and Bad of Vaccine Passports

This is an article “The Good and Bad of Vaccine Passports” by Marc Pulisci

Now that more than half of America’s adult population has been vaccinated, people are expecting more travel options opening soon both domestically or abroad. The sad thing is that around half of America’s population are still having vaccine hesitancy due to numerous reasons. With present concerns ranging from political stance or some vaccines’ adverse effects including blood clotting and death, achieving at least 60% to 70% herd immunity in the country (much more on a global scale), maybe a little far-fetched at the moment. Even the country’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is beginning to have his doubts about reaching the magic numbers.

With all these factors considered, a debate is also currently brewing on whether a vaccine passport is necessary not only for travel but as part of one’s identification as well. Many still seem to oppose the idea quite vehemently, while health experts are all for encouraging it to make things easier in terms of tracking and monitoring.

What are Vaccine Passports?

A vaccine passport is simply a certification that will allow people access to travel domestically or abroad or a venue as they state proof of vaccination. Not to be mistaken with vaccination cards issued by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these passports are not easily forged and can either be in the form of a smartphone app or a written proof.

The way most health experts see vaccine passports is kind of a reward system that allows those who had been vaccinated more access to outdoor activities such as concerts, travel, and sports events like the upcoming Tokyo Olympics for example. Most of all, it can give people some peace of mind and reduce their anxieties about COVID-19.

Sounds like a good plan though little implementation has been done so far except for New York. While the current administration is rolling out its inoculation efforts across the country, the issuance of vaccine passports is not yet a top-priority at the moment if not something that it can get on board at all. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had earlier said that the national government is not too keen on requiring Americans to carry vaccination credentials to come up with a federal database.

The debate over Vaccine Passports

Vaccine passports are part and parcel of the national government’s efforts to achieve a 100% COVID-19 free America. However, no one is holding his breath for that one with vaccine hesitation still being a widely contested issue across the country. This gives vaccine passports a close second option to herd immunity.

With New York being the first to issue digital passports through its Excelsior Pass that clears bearers via QR codes, people began to realize its merits after using the technology in Brooklyn Nets and New York Rangers games.

Meanwhile, things are entirely different in Florida and Texas where vaccine passports are banned due to concerns about the invasion of privacy as the passports may also reveal a bearer’s medical history and current health conditions.

Despite the growing debate, the issue of vaccine passports borders more on security and privacy concerns versus efficiently eliminating COVID-19 at the homefront rather than something politically motivated and contested among blue and red states. The Vaccination Credential Initiative, a team of experts that include the Mayo Clinic and Microsoft, combines technology with healthcare strategies to put reliable verification processes on COVID-19 vaccinations in place. According to the program, user data and immunization information will be kept confidential via encryption software yet many are still reluctant about participating in the initiative pointing out potential overreach by authorities that can compromise their freedom.

COVID-19 verification processes are essential for travel

Even if everything is still up in the air, individuals who want to travel internationally after COVID-19 are expecting to have vaccine passports or a similar verification process in place before airports around the country fully open. The good thing about having these verifications is that they can spare travelers from undergoing mandated quarantine protocols upon arriving in a destination country.

If in the U.S. the issue of vaccine passports is a lingering debate, other parts of the world are looking into what they can offer as economies start to open. In Israel, vaccine passports are already being implemented by authorities to determine who can freely go to open fitness, entertainment, hospitality, and dining establishments.

The United Kingdom, China, Australia, and members of the European Union, particularly Denmark, and Sweden are seriously considering the move to efficiently screen travel eligibility as well as citizen and tourist access to public functions and venues.

The bottom line

Quantifying the pros and cons of vaccine passports can take a lot of time that certain business establishments in Florida are starting to review other alternatives. While some see the need to divide vaccinated individuals from those who haven’t had theirs, many are worried that seeking verification may infringe on someone else’s rights.

Considering the uber-sensitivity being displayed by most American social justice warriors today, businesses might surfer more now that new COVID-19 variants of concern continue to spike infection numbers across the country. With vaccine hesitancy and the CDC’s difficulty in achieving herd immunity, delays in economic leniency can be more prevalent in the coming months despite an outstanding vaccine rollout so far.

While there’s an impasse as to how Americans view the need for vaccine passports, people who have been vaccinated are saying that they too have a right to know who among their peers has been vaccinated too. Not by verbal assurance but by certifications. What this might create, however, is a real problem on equity especially in travel industries given that at this point, only wealthier nations have better access to vaccines which may drastically disrupt business travel coming to and from growth and emerging markets when everything returns to business as usual.

Even world tourism officials are frowning upon the use of vaccine passports saying that they may just lead to travel discrimination which leaves the World Health Organization (WHO) to put up a framework of harmonized standards that’s fair and ethical to every traveler on the planet. If you want to know more about Marc Pulisci and Luxury Travel click here.


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