Vaccination passports are being touted as the answer to getting our travel industry and other businesses up and running again after the COVID-19 pandemic.
You would simply produce their papers and airline tickets could be purchased, access gained to restaurants, hockey games, etc.
Why would anyone object to such a sensible proposal?
Because the idea makes no sense. These vaccines work. The unvaccinated pose no threat to the vaccinated. The only people at any real risk of infection are the minority who choose not to be vaccinated.
The reasoning used by government during the pandemic – that people must be forced to comply with restrictions to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed – will no longer apply.
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Therefore, there’s no legitimate case for preventing entry to those without passports.
But there are many other reasons why vaccination passports are a bad idea.
For one, they have the potential to cause great unfairness. Parents will shortly have to decide whether to vaccinate their children. This will be a very difficult decision for some. It involves weighing the benefits of vaccination against the possible risks. In the case of children and teens, who very seldom even get sick with this coronavirus, it won’t be unreasonable for many parents to decide against vaccination.
If vaccination passports are required for children, families might be unable to travel, watch sports, etc.
Similarly, young adults in good health have little to fear from this disease. Most who become infected will have either no symptoms or mild ones. If sick, almost all recover.
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Many young people and others not so young – particularly minorities and the previously infected – will decide not to be vaccinated. Every vaccination carries some risk but, if someone decides against vaccination, their decision should be respected. It would be unfair to deny entry to restaurants and travel simply for making a personal health choice.
Vaccination passports are an unnecessary intrusion into what’s left of our civil liberties – liberties that have been savaged during this pandemic. We’ve all seen the old shows about totalitarian states where an officer demands to see one’s papers. That’s where we’re heading with concepts like vaccination passports.
The unvaccinated will become the new untouchables. And if passports demand proof of vaccination, they can also be expanded to demand proof of many other things that are simply none of the government’s business. Best not to go there.
To his credit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken against government-mandated vaccination passports. But he should go further and adopt Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s plan to ban corporation-mandated passports as well. This would prevent discrimination against those who choose not to be vaccinated.
The only logical case that can be made for vaccination passports is as a temporary measure, that is until everyone who wants a shot is vaccinated. But as we’ve seen with promises like “two weeks to flatten the curve,” temporary powers tend to become permanent.
Mutations of COVID will probably return each flu season. Hopefully, these variants will become weaker with time. Perhaps it will eventually become just another variety of the annoying common cold. We also hope that the vaccines can be adjusted to deal with the new variants that occur.
Regardless, vaccination passports are a bad idea.
Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Brian is one of our Thought Leaders. For interview requests, click here.
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