The promise and perils of vaccine passports

The promise and perils of vaccine passports

They are divisive, politically tricky and probably inevitable

THE RACE to vaccinate against covid-19 is on. More than 50 countries have given more than 68m jabs. That is not much of a dent in the global population of more than 7bn, but it is enough to invigorate a debate about whether people who have been vaccinated should be permitted to move around more freely.

To allow this, those who have been vaccinated need to be able to prove it. And thus has begun a discussion about whether certificates of immunity—or vaccination passports—should be introduced. Some tourism-dependent countries, such as the Seychelles, have already opened to people who have received a covid-19 jab. Opinions differ about how welcome the wider adoption of such a thing would be. Some think it is a quick route back to normal life. Others worry that it will be unfair and divisive.

Although to some vaccination passports may seem radical, they are not without precedent. By 1922, many schools in America required that children get smallpox vaccinations as a condition of attendance. And the “yellow card” is an international certificate created almost 100 years ago to record inoculations against cholera, yellow fever, typhus and smallpox. To this day, many countries require a yellow-fever certificate as a pre-condition of entry.