The term "vaccine passports" often comes up when discussing what travel will look like in a post-pandemic world. But what is a coronavirus vaccine passport, and how could it impact international travel?
Vaccine passports are government-issued cards that state the bearer has been vaccinated against COVID-19. While the idea is being considered, it is not yet a reality in most countries.
However, Israel rolled out its own vaccine passport recently and several European countries are considering following, while the US is exploring its options. Some states and cities are considering or have already implemented vaccine passports, including Las Vegas, and Hawaii.
Some airlines and destinations expect they will be required for travelers in the future. The vaccine documentation could allow international travel for the bearers, or such documentation could be required to enter certain gyms, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
What are the benefits of vaccine passports?
Proponents of vaccine passports claim they would allow economies to restart and hundreds of millions of people to return to normalcy to some extent after receiving the coronavirus vaccine. They could encourage people to get vaccinated and make public spaces safer.
While major events may not be able to fully return right away, vaccine passports could mean they're able to resume for many people. Requiring such documentation could also encourage safer international travel and tourism and help businesses reopen with less risk.
What is the controversy surrounding vaccine passports?
As many countries consider requiring this type of documentation to engage in certain events, some are concerned. Privacy and choice are concerns for those opposing required vaccine documentation. Those who don't wish to be vaccinated or who are unable to get the vaccination could face society-wide restrictions if passport vaccines become the norm.
"Special privileges for the vaccinated would, by definition, favor demographics that are inoculated at higher rates," according to the New York Times. "In Western countries, those communities tend to be white and well-off."
The U.S. has administered over 143 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, but many countries have yet to administer any, which would put many countries at a disadvantage for international travel.
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