Vaccine Passports: Yes or No?

Tiana Cofer, Journalist

It’s officially been 13 months since COVID-19 has put the world in lockdown, and made countries rethink their plans for dealing with the virus. Over the course of the first year, different countries have tried various techniques for slowing the spread in their region, but most recently, the amount of people who have been vaccinated is one the rise. Along with the increased rise of vaccinations across the country, the nation’s leaders have been debating on whether or not to introduce a vaccine passport, and what it should be required for. International flights? Eating at a restaurant? Going back to work? The pros and cons of a vaccine passport are endless, but there are many reasons on both sides why this may or may not work. 

Record of Vaccination Card (Photo Courtesy of: Google Images)

The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as “vaccine passports” — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen.

The effort has gained momentum amid President Biden’s pledge that the nation will start to regain normalcy this summer and with a growing number of companies — from cruise lines to sports teams — saying they will require proof of vaccination before opening their doors again,” says the WashingtonPost.

As entertainment, restaurants, and other venues start to reopen across the country, this spells great news for those who are vaccinated and looking for life to return to normal. Although this is a good sign, and a step in the right direction, people also need to consider those who are unable to get vaccinated. Even though most adults in the country have been safely vaccinated, young kids from 15 and under aren’t able to get a vaccine yet. The majority of the country hasn’t lowered the age limit, and children 15 years and younger are still being subjected to contracting the virus.  Since giving a young child a vaccine is up to the parents, another problem is presented when parents don’t want to get their children vaccinated. In order for things to go back to normal, and for a vaccine passport to truly work, everyone needs to be vaccinated, regardless of their age. This is only the beginning of the many problems that vaccine passports pose to people across the country.

“So long as not everyone is eligible for a shot, passports are unfair. That holds doubly for the young, sent to the back of the vaccine line, and for ethnic minorities — already hard hit by the pandemic — who are understandably wary of even well-intentioned medical interventions. How can we allow the vaccinated into theaters, events, restaurants, or airplanes, keeping out the unvaccinated?” states CNN.

Young people being unable to get vaccinated, minorities who are wary of a vaccine, and forgeries of vaccine passports already pose a problem to the plan the country is trying to introduce when having to prove that someone’s been vaccinated. With the vaccine age limit remaining at 16 for the time being, young people will have to wait for the age limit to be lowered for them to be eligible to take a vaccine. With many minorities skeptical of the vaccine, and distrustful of medical practices due to medical abuse in the past, many people of color aren’t quick to get a vaccine. Additionally, with vaccine passport forgeries being made and sold on the black market, a whole host of problems have arisen due to trying to make a vaccine passport. Even though these problems exist, it doesn’t mean they can’t be resolved. Vaccine passports can still happen, as long as the technical details are sorted out, such as where it’ll be required.

The outlook for the middle ground between shopping and international travel is murkier. Consider restaurants or gyms. Making sure that customers have been vaccinated may feel advantageous for a restaurant owner eager to return to full-capacity dining while protecting the health of employees. Same for a gym owner hoping to resume exercise or spin classes with a bunch of heavily breathing people jammed together. Promoters of large business conferences, concerts, basketball or hockey games and other events where you’re inside with hundreds of people for long periods may be interested, as well,” states CNET.

So while the technicalities of a vaccine passport are still being sorted out, the benefits and downsides to a vaccine passport are vast and diverse, and require a lot of planning in order to pull it off. While the government can’t legally require someone to take a vaccine, as it’s completely voluntary, hopefully more of the country will be vaccinated and herd immunity will be achieved  for things to go back to normal.