COVID Vaccine Passports Are Dangerous, Possibly Unconstitutional
With some odd timing (concerns around US involvement in the original Wuhan COVID outbreak) the Biden Administration is leaking a bunch of information on plans for a "Vaccine Passport" for COVID-19.
Whether its just a distraction tactic, or if its a serious consideration, the concept of a "vaccine passport" has privacy advocates irate. The idea of a "vaccine passport" is that anyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccine would receive an electronic app or QR code to give them access to various locations or activities. Essentially creating "classes" of individuals based on a vaccine, dividing populations into "haves" and "have nots".
Though the Biden Administration and some others are pushing hard to make this happen, there are large groups of health experts, and ethics leaders, who are against the concept. This includes the World Health Organization.
The WHO has come out against the concept of any form of "vaccine passport", which even included the idea of a passport for "proof" of immunity, meaning natural recovery from COVID-19.
But even world leader, like UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pointed at the many looming ethical questions about the concept of "vaccine passports". His questions are furthered by more study in the UK. Professor Steve Reicher from the University of St. Andrews told the BBC that the concept simply won't work with human behavior:
"People actually aren't averse to vaccine passports to be able to travel internationally. But when it comes to negative incentives - to, in effect, barring people from their everyday lives, from social activity, then actually they work in a very different way."
Even in Canada, the legal questions of a "vaccine passport" are being raised. Vaccine Choice Canada, a group created to promote vaccine decisions, released this statement, according to the National Post:
“Any action that would require Canadians to produce a ‘vaccine Immunity passport’ or similar documentation to pursue life, liberty and happiness is unconstitutional and a deeply disturbing violation of our Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms”
Another Canadian echoed a similar concern. Dr. Larry Sawchuck, an Epidemiologist at University of Toronto also told the National Post that these "vaccine passports" would create "others", which could easily be misused. Giving further opportunity to discriminate against certain groups. He brings up vulnerable groups, like homeless populations, as an example.
While other experts have pointed to these "vaccine passports" as another open avenue for racism. This could cause serious issues in democratic countries where particular racial groups have had less access to vaccines.
But in America, it goes beyond that. America has guardrails built into our Constitution to help curb these types of divisions. Especially when it comes to altering your own body. As it has already been pointed out multiple times on a national stage, "vaccine passports" are likely unconstitutional in the US.
This topic is an interesting conversation across large portions of the US's main two political parties. Two parties that have been deeply divided by the COVID pandemic are seeing some crossover dialogue when it comes to "vaccine passports".
Those who lean democratic have generally (not universally) been in support of COVID mitigation measures, while those who lean republican have generally (not universally) been opposed to heavy-handed government mitigation. Now within those groups, we find those who are generally pro-choice/democratic facing the "my body, my choice" paradox with "vaccine passports". While those who are generally in favor of documentation for immigrants (a generally republican sentiment) could find conflict in pushing against requiring COVID documentation.
In addition to these issues, both parties can find issues with the racial discrimination, private enterprise, and socioeconomic concerns that are all brought up with this dialog over "vaccine passports".
For the first time, there may be common ground for the main two American political parties in the COVID world, and it might be against "vaccine passports".