OP-ED: Should The US Institute ‘Vaccine Passports’?

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Caroline Michailoff, Editorial Director, Junior

A big question covered in the news lately has been whether or not COVID-19 vaccination will be required for international travel. The US government has been exploring the use of vaccine certifications internationally and domestically. The US Department of State has said that it may be possible that, in the future, a vaccine passport will be required for international travelers entering the US, but a federal requirement will not be imposed for domestic travel.

Airlines are extremely eager to ease restrictions and allow travelers to be able to travel and avoid the quarantine when traveling internationally. By providing proof of vaccination on passports, the system offers a simple solution to avoiding this problem. Some airlines have begun to test digital “healthy passports” that could reliably prove someone’s vaccination status on their model devices. Certain organizations such as the Commons Project and the World Economic Forum have been establishing a registry of trusted health care providers that have a simple format that can provide this information. This can serve as an immunity passport and ensure that the individual will not have to quarantine. In addition, several African countries already require certain vaccines to enter, such as the yellow fever vaccine. If it is not required, they are going to require alternatives like a mandatory quarantine. 

Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastain said that vaccines could be exclusive to international travel,  “whether the airlines do it or international authorities do it.” COVID-19 testing requirements, Bastian said, would be burdensome for domestic travel.

The public seems to support vaccine passports. A survey of 2,415 adults by The Points Guy found that two-thirds (67 percent) of people who are already vaccinated and have a desire to travel say they are more likely to travel to a destination or with a provider that requires a vaccine passport. By requiring proof of vaccination, it helps citizens to avoid certain border restrictions and allows visitors to avoid COVID-19 testing or quarantine rules if they show proof of full COVID-19 inoculation. Sweden and Denmark are already working on similar vaccine passports. In the same way that public schools require students to show proof of vaccinations for certain diseases, individual states could also require visitors to be vaccinated for COVID-19.