2 Responses to Head to Head: the ethics of vaccine passports and COVID passes

  • Pavel Novak says:

    COVID shows our mental approach and technological progress. Can we imagine any politician in 1990 to talk about lockdowns or vaccine passports? Hardly.
    Because at that times freedom was prefered. But no more today. We are fed up with freedom because it needs to make our own desicions or to carry a burden of our own responsibility. Therefore it is more COMFORTABLE to rely on the political leaders. They tell us what to do, they tell us how we should decide. They will be responsible for our happiness. That is why we more appreciate SAFETY, not freedom.

    This process was started in 9/11 2001. Together with the fall of the Twins also the believe to freedom started to decline. We again started to think that politics has to take care of us, the politics prevents us from danger.
    COVID is just the culmination of this way of thinking that leads gradually to the tyranny.

    Please remember: we yield to the tyranny because we are not courageous enough to take responsibility for our own decisions.

  • Amy Scanlon says:

    One thing is that vaccine passports aren’t entirely new. Of course, in the past they tended to be either more limited in scope such as the ones for international travel, more decentralized such as job, school, military/police, civil employee and other requirements, and/or best of all the use of smallpox vaccine scars as a “passport” meant that there was no other personal information involved: though I’ve heard stories from Boston in the 1920’s about older woman “from the Victorian era” huffing at this and saying a lady shouldn’t have to show her arm like that.

    That said, I would argue that the privacy concerns of these news passports utterly pale next to the effect that mandatory masks, lockdowns, social distancing, and school closures have had not only on our direct personal freedom, but also on matter of Civil Society (which does need some “face to face” elements to thrive), public transit (climate change folks!!!), and education- distance learning allows very little in the way of group projects or hands on learning, class discussions may be more constrained, and younger students in particular mostly don’t do very well without the structure of the class and often find the home environmental with parents, grandparents, siblings, pets etc doing whatever to be distracting.

    And while there was a point about minimal benefit to transmssion. Thankfully, that may change soon as second and third generation vaccines include more options with multi-strain, mucosal, and “broad spectrum” immunity. It could soon be the case that “fully vaccinated” will mean having at least one vaccine with a mucosal element and perhaps multi-strain boosters.

    That said, I would definitely argue that the basic vaccine passport should be paper based. If a person wants to put that on their phone, there should be some options such as taking a piciture, or getting a QC code verified among others.

    My ideal scenario would be for each country to have its own localized system-no central database- where local official can check the person’s proof of vaccination and give a hard copy card with the same info as a Driver’s License or similar IDs, an Expiration Date, the certification date, and an indicator that this person was either declared fully vaccinated on that date or has a valid medical exemption. That way you could have public employees that have been trained in handling and protecting private medical information by the laws of all relevant or potentially relevant jusridications.

    Once a person has that basic card there should be cheap and easy ways to a second copy (to keep one at home with actual vaccine records), to get card that can be temporarily attached to any passports or other licenses, and some protected electronic options. Even putting a photo on one’s basic passport card and putting it on one’s ID Phone (which a lot of people do with their passports or Driver’s license) should be acceptable as long as the relevant information is clear enough.

    In the future perhaps the scope these mandates and passports will recede into the background. They may be required for school, work, travel, but not for every time you enter a public place. Meanwhile, the good of society really depends on bringing back certain elements of normalcy. Some of these privacy concerns are valid and will need to be addressed but they should not be a show-stopper. That one can go into a public place with a reasonable expectation that most of the people around you are vaccinated for the virus includes not jsut the medically vulnerable, but also citizens who have an interest in being able to interact with other people as they once did.