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The argument against vaccine passports is growing

PHOTO: The Japan Times/Reuters

Government and tourism officials speak out against mandatory vaccinations for international travel — though for different reasons

By Shannon McMahon | 22 January 2021

THE WASHINGTON POST — With the coronavirus pandemic nearing its one-year mark and a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout beginning in many nations, some governments and companies are signaling that they will require vaccinations of international visitors or future customers. …

And this week the Biden administration issued an order calling for an assessment of international certifications of vaccination that could eventually be recognized by other nations requiring the shots.

The groundwork for a vaccine passport system is well underway and, in some ways, already exists. … an increasing number of health experts and tourism officials are saying vaccine passports should not be made mandatory for international travel any time soon because of short supply of doses and potential lapses in the amount of protection vaccines provide; current health measures like testing and quarantines, they say, should stay for vaccinated people. And the World Health Organization recently said that it opposes vaccine requirements for travel because of equity issues in the current state of the global vaccine rollout. …

The [WHO] organization’s doctors are warning that a vaccine will not be a cure-all for travelers before there is global herd immunity — which will take years. WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network chairman Dale Fisher said this month that global herd immunity will not occur by the end of 2021. …

“The vaccines in the U.S. right now have not proven that they decrease transmission, so the patient may still get mild or asymptomatic versions of the disease and they may then be able to transmit it,” says Carlos Acuna-Villaorduna, an infectious-diseases physician at Boston Medical Center. “We also don’t know how long [vaccine] immunity lasts, so a vaccine or immunity passport could possibly give you a false perception of security from the virus that you might not have after a number of months.” …

“The World Health Organization doesn’t want [vaccine requirements for travel] because it’s a health equity issue,” David Freedman, an expert in travel epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “It is not fair to people in impoverished countries to have all the vaccine be used by rich people going on vacation instead of giving it to older people in poor countries.” …

Tourism voices have long been against required vaccinations, though for different reasons than health officials. Travel trade groups including the International Air Travel Association and Airlines for America have been calling for a uniform global approach to testing, not vaccines, that will allow travel to restart.

“The airlines are not in favor of mandatory vaccination — and their reason is a business reason,” Freedman says. “Since the vaccines are not widely available and airlines are a worldwide business, they don’t want to see that requirement because it’s going to take so long to get everybody vaccinated. If that was the main requirement their business is going to suffer for much longer.” …

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic has also said that vaccinations should not be required and that European travel protocols will include “different options.” European Union members are debating this week if it should begin to award greater travel freedom to those who can show proof of vaccination.

Outside of Europe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also expressed disillusionment in requiring vaccinations. Trudeau said this month that some people may decline a vaccination for health or other personal reasons, and should be able to.” […]

2 Comments on The argument against vaccine passports is growing

    • The paywall is why instead of just grabbing the first few paragraphs of an article, as we do with most stories, we shared only the most relevant paragraphs.

      “Force you to use Chrome”?? Does not work in Opera?

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