By: Bella Kaguyutan
As more and more people worldwide are getting vaccinated, non-essential travel will soon return. Travel post-pandemic will look much different than it did before 2020. The concept of vaccine passports has been proposed as a method to allow travelers to prove vaccination before entering a foreign country. This would allow people to travel to other countries without having to go into a quarantine period. While some may be against it, some countries are already lining up plans for vaccine passports.
The topic of vaccine passports has stirred controversy worldwide even though required vaccinations are not a new concept. All states within the US require children to be vaccinated before attending school. Except for certain medical, religious, or philosophical exemptions. In addition, most colleges require a meningitis vaccination prior to attending if the student plans to live in on-campus housing.
Certain countries have already begun the use of vaccine certification and others are lining up to begin soon. In Israel, citizens are enjoying newfound freedom through the use of the Green Pass. The country currently has the second-highest percentage of vaccinated citizens in the world and the Green Pass gives these citizens access to hotels, gyms, and theatres. Iceland, Croatia, Romania, and many other countries are also allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the country.
According to The Guardian, the European Union (EU) is planning to allow fully vaccinated US residents to enter any of the 27 member states beginning this summer. This is hopeful news for those attending the Hammond Community Trip to Europe in the summer of 2022. When asked if the use of vaccine passports would ease the travelers mind’s, Mr. Osborne, the coordinator for the trip, said “It would certainly make me feel better with regards to the safety of our travelers.”
The US federal government has said there will be no federal issued vaccine passports, according to Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary. And that it will be left up to the local governments and private businesses. In New York City, IBM’s Excelsior Pass app has been used to enter such venues like Madison Square Garden. This app confirms a person’s vaccination status or a COVID-19 test result and displays it as a QR code. This code can be scanned by a third party before entering a said establishment.
The World Health Organization has formed the Smart Vaccination Certification Group. This group has created a set of standards for these digital certification apps to follow. This ensures there will be no privacy or safety concerns when it comes to using one of these apps. It also means these apps will be able to work together so a national standard is unnecessary.
States such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, Montana, and Idaho have already placed a ban on businesses requiring a patron to be vaccinated before they may enter the establishment. These bans were based on worries of security and privacy. In regards to if he’d be comfortable using a similar app, Mr. Osborne said “Absolutely. As long as the TSA and CDC were confident in the integrity of the app, that seems like a logical way to keep things moving at airports and ensure that travelers do not pose a risk to others.”
While many states have posed bans on the use of vaccine passports many states are in favor of them, including Maryland. According to a survey reported by CBS Baltimore, 63% of Marylanders believe that vaccine passports should be issued. The Washington Post has also reported that Morgan State and the University System of Maryland will all require vaccination in staff, students, and faculty for the 2021-22 school year. As well as many other colleges and universities.
The use of vaccine passports would allow for non-essential travel and day-to-day life to resume in a convenient and safe manner. Vaccine certification would allow for a similar day-to-day life we once knew to recommence.