Everything You Need to Know About Digital Vaccine Passports
A digital vaccine passport or digital health pass is something that more and more developed countries are trying to implement. The idea behind it may be sound, but there’s certainly some controversy over requiring people to have vaccines in order to travel or access certain spaces. If you’re wondering just what it might mean for you if these passports are required in the future, read on to learn more.
What is a Digital Vaccine Passport?
There are two items that are referred to as a digital vaccine passport. They are a digital health pass, which is used within a local area and isn’t a passport at all, and an actual vaccine passport, which verifies that travelers have received their Covid-19 vaccine. The latter would be required when traveling between states or provinces, as well as countries.
The passport can come in various forms. Some towns want to use cards that people can use as proof of their vaccinated status. In this case, you need to show your health pass in order to enter certain areas, such as gyms, stadiums, or other high-volume areas. For example, the 2021 Superbowl is expected to include vaccinated health care workers as spectators. Everything from sports to theater is struggling now due to the lack of a live audience. However, with the implementation of a local health pass, this problem could vanish and the economy could rise again.
An important objective is to have a passport that proves you can travel safely to another country. IATA offers a verified phone passport that you can use to prove you have met all restrictions. While the general consensus is that a vaccine passport means you’ve been vaccinated against the virus, some versions are considering including negative testing to speed up the process of entering new areas or getting on a plane. Again, having something that is globally accepted would speed up the process and remove many of the struggles that the travel industry and travelers are currently facing.
At this point in time, it’s hard to say exactly what the future vaccine passport will look like, but it will need to be the same across borders, or there’s very little reason to have it. Eventually, this could become the new normal and allow everyone to travel like before, as long as they’ve received the vaccine.
Why Would We Need a Vaccine Passport?
At the moment, travel is fraught with difficulties and challenges as every country struggles to implement the right restrictions for their needs. Unfortunately, this is constantly changing and travelers find themselves trying to meet outdated guidelines or regulations. It’s frustrating for everyone and makes travel more difficult, despite the fact that some travel is necessary in order to keep the economy moving.
A vaccine passport would simplify things by offering global, standardized solutions. Every country would use the same regulations and this would immediately make life simpler for everyone involved, from customs agents to passengers. It also means that it would be possible to do away with mandatory quarantine, which is currently required in a number of countries. If someone has proof of their vaccination or immunity, it immediately identifies them as safe for travel.
Currently, most countries allow entry with proof of a negative test for Covid-19. However, this is an extra piece of paper to carry around and whether you have been tested or vaccinated, it’s a hassle to produce all the correct paperwork. If everything were simplified and globalized, it would immediately make traveling much more hassle-free.
What’s the Controversy?
There are two sides to the vaccine passport controversy. Some people feel it is unconstitutional or overstepping for the government to require vaccines in order to access certain spaces or to travel to another area. There are a number of people who feel vaccines are dangerous and have no intention of receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, but will they then be banned from traveling?
There is also the issue of people who cannot receive vaccines due to their pre-existing health conditions. Would they be permitted to travel under a special clause? And would this be abused by others who simply refuse to get the vaccine? How lawful is it to force people to vaccinate if they wish to travel? These are all issues that need to be sorted out before vaccine passports can become a thing. Most countries, at least 196 of them, follow international law which allows governments to require proof of vaccination in order to access certain places, though not all countries exercise this right. This has already been done in some areas where you cannot enter if you don’t have a yellow fever vaccination, for example.
Aside from personal beliefs, there are a number of issues when it comes to a vaccine passport. For example, the different vaccines have varying effects and the immunity for one may not be the same for another. The fact that new strains of the virus have also appeared means that some vaccines may not be as effective in the future. All of this must be considered when determining the use of digital health passes. After all, if they’re not effective in preventing new cases, then why use them?
While the controversy still goes on, there are definite moves toward this method of verifying those who have received the vaccination. Whether or not it will become an absolute has yet to be seen.
Who Is Implementing the Vaccine Passport?
At the moment, the vast majority of places are merely discussing or evaluating the possibility of implementing a health pass, including the United States. Denmark intends to roll out health passes in the next couple of months, as well. The EU is planning a health pass, as well, and is aiming to have it all ready to go by summer.
Israel, the country with the highest vaccination rate globally as of March 26, has already implemented a health passport, which they refer to as a Green Pass. This is issued to anyone who has either recovered from Covid-19 or has been completely vaccinated. It allows people to enter hotels, theaters, and gyms.
In addition to countries requesting proof of vaccination, some airlines are planning to implement IATA’s digital travel pass, to ensure all regulations are met.
While not all countries are set on using a vaccine passport, it’s likely to become a requirement in many areas. A global solution like this may be the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19, but at what cost?