How will vaccine passports work?
May 17, 2021
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by Snigdh Baunthiyal

Vaccine passports are the hot new topic 
With Covid-19 vaccine rollouts going on around the world, governments across the world are trying to tackle the issue of how to open up the world, and more importantly to whom.

Enter vaccine passports. Described has a sort of health card which shows your Covid-19 vaccine status, these vaccine passports or digital health cards, as they are known might soon be a part of international diplomacy.
There is no international agreement or universal standard in place for vaccine passports. Each country is coming up with its own set of regulations. 

What are different countries and organisations saying?
Some countries have come up with different ways of regulating travel, and local indoor events to make sure people’s health is not compromised.

The UK has announced that starting 17 May, whoever has had both doses of the vaccine can use their NHS app as their vaccine passport. NHS stands for UK’s National Health Service. The country is also reopening its borders on May 17.

Canada doesn’t have any system of issuing vaccine passports yet but has said that the country might require proof of vaccination from international travellers coming into the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said, ‘Our responsibility is to do everything necessary to protect Canadians, and we are going to do that, even if there isn’t automatically symmetry with other countries.’
According to a Leger poll carried out in Canada, 80% of those polled supported the idea of a vaccine passport for travelling. 

The International Air Transport Association, a trade association of international airlines, has launched the IATA Travel Pass. According to its website, the pass is a mobile app ‘that helps travellers to store and manage their verified certifications for COVID-19 tests or vaccines.’ Currently, 32 airlines are using the pass on a trial basis.

The European Union has come up with the idea of a ‘digital green certificate.’ Officials have said that it is not a vaccine pass and has been designed in a way so it doesn’t cause any discrimination. People who choose to get vaccinated in EU member countries, will receive a free vaccine certificate from the Government. The Union is yet to agree on which vaccines will be eligible under the certificate. The document will either be a physical copy or a digital file with a QR code. The QR code will carry the encoded data which would be uploaded to a central system, allowing EU member states to verify the data.

What are the concerns around vaccine pass system
The biggest concern is that of discrimination. Experts have said that if all countries decide to adopt a vaccine passport system, then it will lead to two classes, the vaccinated and the non vaccinated. Getting the Covid-19 vaccine is not mandatory in most countries. So those who choose not to get the vaccine for any reason, can be discriminated against.
The other concern is that of data privacy. How much of travellers’ medical data will organisations have access to? How much medical information will the travellers have to reveal?
These are just few of the questions which are on the radar for now. As countries and organisations begin testing their versions of vaccine passports, it’s a wait to see how these will work out in the future.

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