With Covid-19 vaccine rollout having started in most countries, there’s talk of starting ‘Vaccine Passports’ to support safe and smooth international travel once countries open up their borders for tourism.
What is a Vaccine Passport?
A Vaccine Passport could be an app, a digital copy, or a physical document that shows whether you’ve received the required vaccination or not. The concept of a medical passport isn’t new. The World Health Organisation introduced the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, more commonly known as the ‘Yellow card’ as a travel document for a range of vaccinations including yellow fever.
With the pandemic in its second year, it is likely that the vaccine passports will find more support as time goes on. However, there are many factors to be considered. The biggest one is that of possible discrimination. The older population is first in line to receive vaccinations across the world.
If such a passport did become official, then younger people who are still waiting to get their shots will have to wait to travel. This will also limit travel for those who are refusing vaccines. Covid-19 vaccines are not compulsory in most countries.
Another factor to note is that there is still not enough research to know how well the vaccines are working against the new variants, especially the ones in South Africa. Therefore, this may be a premature move in terms or safety.
There are many pros to be considered as well. The first one is the obvious incentive a health passport might offer to those who are currently thinking of not getting vaccinated and the fact that this might open up international travel once again.
Countries considering a Vaccine Passport
Israel has already introduced a ‘Green pass’ for those who have received the Covid-19 vaccine. China’s Foreign Ministry has announced that it will launch certificates that will declare a person’s recent test results or vaccination status.
The European Commission has also said it will start presenting proposals for a ‘Digital Green Pass’ for EU citizens. The Green Pass will have the holder’s vaccination status and their test results. They are aiming for the Digital Green Pass to come into effect in three months.
“The aim is to gradually enable them [EU citizens] to move safely in the European Union or abroad—for work or tourism,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Denmark has also announced plans for a digital vaccination passport. Other countries which are in support of this scheme are Greece and Spain.
Some airlines are leading the way.
Emirates Airlines has introduced the Iata Travel pass which travellers need to use to update their Covid test reports or vaccination status to ensure that it is in line with the requirements of their destination country.
The travel pass has also been enforced by British Airways, RwandAir, and Air New Zealand. Canada also requires incoming international passengers to download an app in which they enter their quarantine plan and contact information signing an agreement that they agree to follow the country’s quarantine plans.