On Monday, TV personality Dr. Drew tweeted his opposition at COVID-19[female[feminine vaccine passports, saying, “These vaccine passports separate people and deprive them of their freedom to travel abroad. Vaccinations are important, and I encourage everyone to get vaccinated against Covid, but how would you feel if international travel required other vaccinations as well? “
Tuesday, He came back – but for thousands of people on Twitter, that seemed like a good question.
As vaccine passports have become the last flashpoint of COVID-19 pandemic, most people already have documentation proving that they have been vaccinated against certain diseases. And many public health experts say such evidence will be essential in getting life back to normal while preventing future outbreaks of COVID-19.
“People have been in pain for over a year and want their lives back,” Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University, told BuzzFeed News. “They want to go to restaurants, see movies, travel to see their loved ones and go back to work. Vaccine passports offer a path to a faster and safer return to normal life. “
As vaccines are increasingly distributed, the prospect of COVID-19 vaccine passports is becoming a reality for many people. The European Union is likely to launch them in June. Israel, who lead the great nations in vaccines administered so far, has already introduced one. China has one too. UK debate its own version. New York State has a voluntary program “Excelsior Pass»That shows proof of vaccination or a negative test for access to sporting events, concert halls and businesses. At least eight major airlines are working on a version of a coronavirus passport, as is Walmart.
More … than 64 million people, or nearly 1 in 5 Americans, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so far.
But the federal government – including Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases – has so far clarified it will not lead the efforts produce a national passport for vaccines. Instead, it is work at the corral the more than a dozen versions under development in the private sector.
Many Republican leaders have opposed such measures, suggesting they would constitute government overreach. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Friday signed an executive order banning the use of COVID-19 vaccination passports in the state. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves Sunday told CNN that he also opposed it. Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday joined in.
“The passport is a good idea,” Howard Markel, pediatrician and medical historian, told BuzzFeed News. “The way it has become politicized is very disturbing and difficult for public health professionals to understand.”
This politicization has had a real impact. A recent poll found that only 50% of US residents would support a voluntary document that verifies vaccination.
The debate in the United States is in many ways a resumption of those on locks and contact search. Should Americans accept restrictions on their personal freedom in the name of public health? Do these temporary measures remain long after they are needed? Will people’s privacy be protected? But the idea of vaccine passports is not new: The United States already has a patchwork of private and public entities that require people to show they have been vaccinated.
“We already keep records of vaccinations in our medical records. Schools keep records of children. Many hospitals keep them for their staff. These should be familiar, ”Gostin said.
To travel abroad, people must already prove that they have been vaccinated. To enter the United States, travelers must provide a disease vaccination record – 14 in all – including hepatitis A and B, two types of flu, polio and chickenpox. These records are kept in a booklet published by the World Health Organization. American armed forces, which sends its members all over the world, requires a dozen vaccinations depending on where a person is deployed.
Proof of vaccination is also required to enroll children in school in the 50 states. In Florida, where DeSantis is governor, children in Kindergarten to Grade 12 must be immunized against six diseases. California and Texas each requires seven. Since immunization requirements for schools are managed at the state level – there is no federal mandate – many states allow personal beliefs or religious exemptions for parents to opt out. California is among the states that removed these exemptions after a dangerous measles epidemic which started at Disneyland in 2015 hit the state.
Ever since there have been vaccines, public health officials have asked people to prove that they have received them. As historian Jordan E. Taylor wrote in Time magazine, beginning in the 19th century, American authorities required people to show that they had been vaccinated against smallpox. Immigration officials demanded proof of vaccination at Ellis Island in New York and Angel Island in San Francisco. Companies mandated it as a condition of employment. And during local outbreaks, police required people to show they had been vaccinated.
Vaccine passports raise real concerns. Some people worry about their digital rights or privacy violation. But Gostin, who co-authored an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association on possible ethical issues, said vaccine passports would contain very little information. “In many ways, vaccine passports protect your privacy. They don’t require you to divulge any information unless you have received a vaccine or not, ”he wrote.
Others question the fairness of requiring proof of vaccination in the United States, because so far Black and Latin communities were vaccinated at disproportionately low rates. Experts take this seriously, but have suggested that these concerns will diminish as vaccines become more widely available.
“Fairness cannot be an afterthought,” Gostin said. “We cannot have a passport as long as there is a shortage of vaccines. In a month or two, vaccines will drive people out, not the other way around. Everyone will have a chance to get it. “
Public health experts stressed that it is understandable that people are unsure of vaccine passports and encouraged them to speak to their health care providers if they have any questions.
“My recommendation is to check with your doctor or the WHO or CDC websites,” Markel said. “Have a good conversation with your doctor. We don’t want to intimidate people.