The idea of “vaccine passports” is highly controversial. Despite this, a number of countries have already expressed some support for the idea as a solution to travel in the coming years.
Spain, Iceland, Estonia, Belgium, and Denmark have all said they would be looking into the idea of a certificate to prove travelers’ vaccination status to make it possible to ease restrictions.
Additionally, Poland recently announced that it would be introducing a scheme that would provide citizens with a downloadable QR code after vaccination. This online certification would give them additional freedoms and rights.
What are the ethical concerns?
The idea of a vaccine passport system has caused a lot of debate, with the impact on individuals and human rights being the main concern.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said earlier in the week that it is currently opposed to certificates for those that have had a vaccine, and that it doesn’t support it being used as a requirement for travel to other countries.
In its recommendations, it added that proof of vaccination shouldn’t be used for this purpose and countries should be wary of using certificates to exempt people from other measures.
The committee said, “There are still too many fundamental unknowns in terms of the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing (virus) transmission and vaccines are still only available in limited quantities.”
Although it might be possible to use certificates alongside other precautionary measures to manage the pandemic more effectively, it’s important to consider human rights and the protection of people’s privacy as well.
Some advocates argue that it would give vaccinated people more freedom. But, it would restrict the freedoms of many other people, especially those from marginalized groups.
Making it a requirement for people to share their medical information and prove their health status would disproportionately affect people that can’t afford to access tests or vaccines.
Additionally, those opposed to the idea argue that this is an extreme measure that is based on many assumptions that haven’t been confirmed by health professionals.
The WHO says that more focus should, instead, be placed on rolling out vaccination campaigns to more people around the world to protect health workers and high-risk groups.