2021-04-09 01:51:54 You Probably Already Have Some Type Of Vaccine Passport
You Probably Already Have Some Type Of Vaccine Passport
Dr. Drew, a television personality, tweeted his opposition to COVID-19 vaccine passports on Monday, saying, “These vaccine passports segregate people and deprive them of their freedom to travel internationally.” Vaccinations are important, and I recommend that everyone get the Covid vaccine, but how would you feel if international travel required additional vaccinations?”
On Tuesday, he walked it back, but it seemed like a good question to thousands of people on Twitter.
It is not the case.
While vaccine passports have emerged as the latest flashpoint in the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of people already have some form of documentation proving they’ve been vaccinated against specific diseases. Many public health experts believe that such proof will be critical in restoring normalcy while preventing future COVID-19 outbreaks.
“People have suffered for over a year, and they want their lives back,” Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University professor of global health law, told BuzzFeed News. “They want to go to restaurants, watch movies, visit their loved ones, and return to work. Vaccine passports provide a path to a faster and safer return to normal life.”
COVID-19 vaccine passports are becoming a reality for many people as vaccines become more widely available. They are expected to be launched in June by the European Union. Israel, which currently leads major nations in vaccine administration, has already implemented one. China has one as well. The United Kingdom is debating its own version. The state of New York has implemented a voluntary “Excelsior Pass,” which requires proof of vaccination or a negative test to gain access to sporting events, music venues, and businesses. At least eight major airlines, as well as Walmart, are developing a coronavirus passport.
So far, more than 64 million people, or nearly one in every five Americans, have been fully immunized against COVID-19.
However, the federal government, including Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated that it will not lead efforts to develop a national vaccine passport. Instead, it is attempting to corral the more than a dozen private-sector versions.
Many Republican leaders have objected to such measures, claiming that they would amount to governmental overreach. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on Friday prohibiting the use of COVID-19 vaccination passports in the state. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves told CNN on Sunday that he, too, was opposed to them. Texas Governor Greg Abbott chimed in on Tuesday.
Howard Markel, a pediatrician and medical historian, told BuzzFeed News, “The passport is a good idea.” “How it has become politicized is very disturbing and difficult for public health professionals to comprehend.”
This politicization has had a significant impact. According to a recent poll, only half of US residents support a voluntary document that verifies vaccination.
The debate in the United States is, in many ways, a rerun of the debates over lockdowns and contact tracing. Should Americans accept limitations on their personal liberty in the name of public health? Will these stopgap measures last long after they are no longer required? Will people’s privacy be safeguarded? Vaccine passports, on the other hand, are not a novel concept: The United States already has a patchwork of private and public entities that require people to show proof of vaccination.
“We already keep vaccination records in our medical records. Children’s records are kept in schools. Many hospitals keep them on hand for their employees. “These should ring a bell,” Gostin said.
Many people already have to show proof of vaccination in order to travel internationally. To enter the United States, immigrants must show proof of vaccination against 14 diseases, including hepatitis A and B, two types of influenza, polio, and chickenpox. The records are kept in a World Health Organization booklet. The United States Armed Forces, which deploys its members all over the world, requires a variety of vaccinations, depending on where a person is stationed.
In addition, proof of vaccination is required in all 50 states for children to enroll in school. Children in kindergarten through 12th grade in Florida, where DeSantis is governor, are required to be vaccinated against six diseases. Both California and Texas require seven. Because school vaccination requirements are handled at the state level — there is no federal mandate — many states allow parents to opt out based on personal beliefs or religious exemptions. California was among the states that removed such exemptions following a dangerous measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in 2015.
For as long as vaccines have been available, public health officials have required people to demonstrate that they have received them. Beginning in the nineteenth century, US authorities required people to show proof that they had been vaccinated against smallpox, as historian Jordan E. Taylor wrote in Time magazine. At Ellis Island in New York and Angel Island in San Francisco, immigration officials required proof of vaccination. Businesses made it a requirement as a condition of employment. During local outbreaks, police would require people to show proof of vaccination.
Vaccine passports raise legitimate concerns. Some people are concerned about the violation of their digital rights or the invasion of their privacy. However, Gostin, who coauthored a paper on the potential ethical issues in the Journal of the American Medical Association, believes vaccine passports would contain very little information. “Vaccine passports protect your privacy in a variety of ways. They don’t require you to disclose anything other than whether or not you received a vaccine,” he wrote.
Others question the fairness of requiring proof of vaccination in the United States, given that Black and Latinx communities have historically been vaccinated at disproportionately low rates. Experts take this seriously, but believe that as vaccines become more widely available, these concerns will diminish.
“Equity cannot be an afterthought,” said Gostin. “We can’t have passports while vaccines are scarce. Within a month or two, the vaccines will be chasing the people rather than the other way around. Everyone will have an equal chance of obtaining it.”
Public health experts emphasized that it is understandable for people to be concerned about vaccine passports and encouraged them to consult with their healthcare providers if they had any concerns.
“My advice is to consult your doctor or the websites of the WHO or the CDC,” Markel said. “Have a good talk with your doctor. We don’t want to intimidate people.”