The endless debates about who should be eligible to get a vaccine should end soon as vaccines become more readily available. Then, we’re going to see a shift in the big ethics question. The problem in a few months is going to be, what are we going to do about the non-vaccinators?
I think we’re going to be talking about mandates and vaccine passports. Then what I suspect is going to happen is that private industry is going to start to mandate, including cruise ships, airlines, hotels, restaurants, bars, and gyms. The way these industries are going to function to restore trust is to mandate vaccination and to ask for proof of it, which we could call a vaccine passport. I think mandates and passports are in our future; it’s the only way to overcome vaccine hesitancy and resistance. I think it’s legal. I think it’s ethical.
Interestingly enough, I wouldn’t expect the government to be doing it. I think the private sector is going to do it. If you want your liberty and you want your freedom to travel, go out, use the gym, go to recreational activities, and go to sports, you’re going to have to vaccinate and be able to prove it.
People might say, “I don’t need to vaccinate; I’ve had COVID. I’ve been exposed and came out of it and there’s no reason to vaccinate me. I must have antibodies.” I don’t think that argument is going to hold up as a reason not to get vaccinated either.
FOOTNOTE: Passports are Being Developed and Called for
Major U.S. aviation, travel and aerospace groups have asked President Joe Biden to help establish temporary COVID-19 health credentials that would be required for travel. As proposed, the credentials would be informational and include a person’s vaccine and COVID-19 status. They are not recommending requiring vaccination for domestic or international travel.
The group’s urged the president to “quickly develop uniform, targeted federal guidance for temporary COVID-19 health credentials (CHC) covering both tests and vaccinations.” At the present time, the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization “are working closely to identify the necessary information that would be contained in a medical record and a travel document,” the letter to Biden noted.
Countries such as Iceland, Poland and Portugal have already announced plans for proof-of-vaccination certificates. The European Union expects to present a “digital green pass,” which combines information on vaccination, recovery from the illness and results from a test for people who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, possibly as soon as this week.
Qantas Airways has started its first customer trial of a CommonPass digital health app, which allows people to upload their negative coronavirus test results or proof of vaccination for international flights.
There are companies in the U.S. developing vaccine certificates for smartphone apps. The idea is that when you fly into a country, you scan the app at border control. If it validates your vaccine status or negative test result, then you can skip the country’s quarantine process. If you don’t have a pass, you might be required to quarantine, most likely for 14 days at your expense.
IBM is working on a “digital health pass” that uses blockchain for security and authentication. The IBM system will include vaccine status or test results for people who have not been vaccinated, spokesperson Carolyn Castel of IBM Watson Health said.
COVID-19 status credentials appear to be on the horizon.