Now that the COVID-19 Vaccine has become widely available in the U.S. and in other countries around the world (although many less developed countries are struggling to procure doses), the question on lots of people’s minds is “What is normal life going to look like”. A big part of this question is if vaccines will be mandatory for travel and in some public spaces like colleges, schools, or workplaces. Surrounding all this speculation is the idea of a “vaccine passport” that could be required to enter events and spaces like restaurants, movie theatres, and sporting events, or to travel to other countries. Currently, everyone who is vaccinated gets a CDC-issued card that is the vaccinated person’s responsibility to keep safe as it is their only proof of obtaining the vaccine. While this may work as evidence for people in the U.S., does it work for other countries, and what happens if you lose it? The answer hasn’t totally been worked out yet.
Currently, the U.S. Federal government said they will not introduce digital vaccine passports by federal mandate, however many cruise lines, sports venues, and other businesses have said they will require proof of vaccination for their patrons, which has led to a rush to develop a digital vaccine passport that would serve the country. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the push for a generalized vaccine passport would be led by the private sector or individual states. New York has already released a website and app that serves as a vaccine passport for stadiums like Madison Square Garden and other venues. All this being said, there are is no multi-nation agreement on travel and COVID vaccination proof at the moment.
Although a vaccine passport seems like it could help get the world back to “normal” again. Many are against the idea. First, there is the worry of equity in vaccine distribution. If underserved communities aren’t given access to the vaccine at the same rate as others then the vaccine passport would serve as a restriction for certain groups of people. Others also worry that giving any type of medical information to a tech company might not be a good idea considering Silicon Valley’s past and present dealings with privacy. Both of these are valid concerns, and there definitely will not be a time in the near future where all U.S. residents will be required to be logged into a vaccination system.
While vaccination passports may be used on a small scale here in the United States, it looks like you won’t have to worry about a nationwide system. In summary, go get your vaccinations and let’s end this pandemic!!!!
By Andrew Kolar