Volume 31



Vaccine Passports: Global Distribution

Jernej Furman

The Vaccine Passport, soon to be widespread globally, gives many countries and citizens alike hope for the future of their economy but also raises both ethical concerns and high risks.

According to The New York Times, Vaccine passports are government issued certificates stating whether one has been vaccinated for COVID-19. The idea backing the creation of these passports is to provide economic and social relief for families around the globe. Its goal, to a certain extent, is to allow people to return to a stage of normalcy.

As reported by The New York Times, Many argue that in theory the vaccine passport will decrease infection rates due to the fact that vaccines will be needed in order to travel, and that it will possibly relieve people and countries who are struggling economically and rely on tourism. Countries such as Spain, Greece and Thailand are a few of many countries to express their interest in the vaccine passports with the common goal of initiating tourism once again. Other countries with lower numbers of vaccinations, such as France, have expressed their doubts because this policy would create a disadvantage for their own citizens.

There are also many risks the vaccine passport will encourage. For example, they may substitute as a justification for more travel around the world during the pandemic. Because this policy is rather new, some practical risks include that the passports themselves can be simply forged. Despite some discussed upsides of this policy, division between the vaccinated and unvaccinated would be undeniable.

A key factor opposing the vaccine passports are the ethical risks. An overwhelming amount of the vaccines are transported to wealthier countries and within those countries, to racial groups with greater privilege.

According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Among 6,706,697 (51.9%) persons whose race/ethnicity was known, 60.4% were White and 39.6% represented racial and ethnic minorities, including 14.4% categorized as multiple or other race/ethnicity, 11.5% Hispanic/Latino, 6.0% Asian, 5.4% Black, 2.0% AI/AN, and 0.3% NH/PI”.

By allowing the expansion of vaccine passports to take place, already extremely large social gaps would be enlarged, allowing certain rights to only the vaccinated and restricting those who are not vaccinated.

As stated by Max Fisher of The New York Times, “Special privileges for the vaccinated would, by definition, favor demographics that are inoculated at higher rates. In Western countries, those communities tend to be white and well-off. This evokes an uncomfortable image: professional-class white people disproportionately allowed into shops, baseball games and restaurants, with people of color and members of the working classes disproportionately kept out. If workplaces require proof of vaccination, it could tilt employment as well.”

Those in favor of the vaccine passport distribution believe that a key goal is economic relief, yet many would argue otherwise. While some will manage to attain some version of normal life back, communities that have already been affected most by the pandemic will experience much different circumstances. Some consider traveling a necessity, crucial to the survival of both economies and people.

Through the vaccine passport, the lack of access to a vaccine shot, regardless of circumstance, highlights many restrictive opposing points. Not only is the right to travel a restrictive topic, but also issues that need to be brought to light, like what will these vaccine passports establish in regards to further division.

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