Vaccine Passports: How It Affects Travel

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Besides work, there are many things returning to normal in a post-COVID world. The vaccine passport, we are told, is going to be a part of that change which will allow seamless travel internationally.

In theory, this vaccine certificate will allow fully vaccinated individuals to travel freely throughout the world. Similar concepts existed well before the advent of the coronavirus vaccine, for example, certain nations required proof of vaccination for diseases like polio or yellow fever. As for COVID-19, the idea of a vaccine passport was first instituted in Israel on February 21, 2021, allowing businesses to discriminate towards those that are not fully vaccinated. In some other countries, vaccine passports have been enforced in order to be able to attend local events, book rooms in hotels, eat out at restaurants, etc.

What exactly is a vaccine passport?

Vaccine Passport

A vaccine passport is an original document that proves that the individual has been vaccinated. Some nations have instituted such a document in order to legally enter the country, to access certain facilities, including eating out at restaurants, or booking rooms at hotels. Some companies and businesses have even required vaccine proof for employment.

The premise is, businesses can open in full capacity only if a certain amount of the population is vaccinated. To ensure that this happens, instituting vaccine passports would in turn, allow the economy and society to return to pre-COVID levels of freedom and stability.

Whether such a vaccine passport would be physical or digital may vary from country to country. Some nations might require the paper form, while others the digital form, which usually consists of an application on your smartphone.

Do you need a vaccine passport in order to travel?

As of the date this article is posted, not every country demands proof of vaccination in order to travel. In the U.S. for example, proof of vaccination is not mandated at the federal level, though the federal government does give right to businesses to require proof of vaccination from their customers, which can include hotels and restaurants. Businesses can also tell employees to vaccinate themselves. However, religious or health reasons can be a legitimate form of exception to this rule.

Some nations may require a vaccine passport for tourists visiting the country. In the cruise industry, which is expected to open before August 2021, many cruise lines have already approved the concept of a vaccine passport, allowing them to not only open up for business, but to also run at full capacity.

Currently, airlines have not mandated vaccines for passengers, however most still require facial coverings and a negative PCR test.

Does the vaccine passport have any drawbacks?

Only through a proper and rigorous investigation can one safely conclude whether vaccine passports can truly work in a free and open world. Researching the negatives and positives will allow you to come to your own conclusions. Nonetheless, here are some potential drawbacks:

1. Even those fully vaccinated have contracted COVID-19.

2. It allows discrimination against people based on their health status.

3. Experts are still unsure about how long the vaccine will protect against COVID-19 due to the number of new strains being developed every year.

4. Israel, where 80% of adults have been vaccinated, decided to discontinue the use of vaccine passports, claiming its usage had become "redundant".

What does the WHO say on vaccine passports?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a vaccine passport is not necessary because vaccination is not completely accessible to everyone, due to the limited number of vaccines available. Not to mention a sizable portion of the population that are knowingly or unknowingly allergic to the genetically modified ingredients within vaccines.

Will the digital vaccine passport protect user privacy, and will it become the norm for travel?

It has been suggested that the digital vaccine passport might even use blockchain technology for the privacy of individuals. The app will also allow the individual to set access permissions. Furthermore, the app will store information about one's immunity in an encrypted manner. On the other hand, apps that store user's data with the help of Bluetooth might reveal the user's IP address resulting in exposed private data.

Whether or not such a document will be enforced everywhere and become an integral part of travel, only time will tell, however, this article is simply to inform our regular subscribers on the affect it can have on travel, including both the negatives and positives of vaccine passports, and why this issue should be scrutinized rationally and not emotionally.