Are vaccine passports discriminatory? This important question should be on everyone’s mind as versions of this new tool have begun rolling out around the world. And our automatic response should come easily. Yes, vaccine passports are discriminatory – they segregate society into the “haves” and the “have nots”.
It’s hard to deny that the purpose of vaccine passports, at their core, is to discriminate. But on the surface, a piece of physical or digital paper is not inherently discriminatory. The vaccine passport is merely information that tells us if the person who possesses it underwent a particular novel medical procedure. It is what we, as a society, choose to do with this information that determines whether or not vaccine passports are truly discriminatory.
What’s in a name?
Using the term “vaccine passport” starts us off on the wrong foot. It’s not nearly as neutral as “certificate” or “evidence.” In use, the vaccine passport becomes more than a piece of information regarding a medical procedure; it encroaches upon individual freedom of mobility and access throughout society.
In the context of airline travel, “passports” are almost universally required for international travel. So instantly, with the use of the term “vaccine passport,” the implication is that without one, you are going nowhere.
Our understanding of the actual Covid-related threat that any of us poses to one another, is an emerging picture. But when society adopts this language and creates policies and regulations based on it, we get the likes of pubs and restaurants, medical clinics, and places of worship denying access to people that have chosen, for their own reasons, not to subject themselves to a particular medical procedure. In this sense, vaccine passports are abhorrently discriminatory. To segregate society based on an arbitrary marker, such as vaccination status, is to some the first step down a slippery slope toward dystopia.
Let’s think about this…
Currently, what passes as conversation about vaccination status and mandates barely scratches the surface. We shouldn’t even be talking about vaccination per se. Instead, we should discuss immunity to SARS-CoV-2. After all, isn’t this more in line with the motivation that lies behind the concept of vaccine passports? Assuming the goal of mass vaccination and the goal of our global response to this pandemic truly is to drive SARS-CoV-2 to extinction, we need a more robust conversation about population-level immunity. Instead, we have defaulted to what has become an oversimplified “good guys vs bad guys” framework.
Shouldn’t we double down on the study of natural immunity and broadcast the results, so people can make informed decisions based on sound scientific research? And why have the risk factors for severe SARS-CoV-2 disease outcomes as well as Covid-19 vaccine injuries not been publicized? What are the risks of exposing ourselves to novel gene therapy? Where do we fit in if we supplement with quercetin and zinc, are young and fit, and make healthy lifestyle choices like eating whole foods? We need to be asking these questions and demanding options that suit our individual needs. Why don’t we have a “natural immunity passport” and a “prophylactic therapeutics passport”?
When we don’t invest in these conversations and answer these questions, we stay stuck in the “good guys vs bad guys” framework. The vaccinated become the “good guys” and those with natural immunity, that cannot be vaccinated, that exercise their right to choose alternatives, that don’t consent to sharing this information, and even those that are vaccinated but don’t get a booster on the recommended schedule, become the “bad guys”.
When we look at the big picture, it becomes clear that our freedom to operate in society and classification as “good” or “bad” should not hinge on whether or not they have undergone a particular medical procedure — a procedure that happens to be the most pharmacologically lucrative option.
Until we can recognize and demand acknowledgment of the complexities of this situation for what they truly are and incorporate a diversity of options into a creative inclusive array of approaches, we can expect the continued push of ineffective, discriminatory, and even dangerous policies and regulations. The regulations are black and white; e.g. No Jab, No Job. These regulations are arbitrary and hardline. They imply safety when there is no certainty of safety to be had. In contrast, natural immunity, had it been allowed to run its course with the complementary use of therapeutics, could have led to herd immunity and ended the pandemic long ago. Due to its unnecessary narrowness, the present approach is more likely to perpetuate the pandemic indefinitely.
Let’s do this instead
The current policies surrounding vaccination status and the privileges associated with passports — gained or withheld — are abhorrently discriminatory. The contrivance of the “vaccine passport” narrative should be given no place in the world today.
In this sense, society needs to become more discriminatory when it comes to information. We must be intentional about who we rely on to tell the truth about vaccines and the risks associated with them, natural immunity, and therapeutics. “Vaccine passports” cannot drive SARS-CoV-2 to extinction. What they can do is destroy the fabric of society’s shared concern for one another. In this way, they are already successful. As a sole means of driving SARS-CoV-2 to extinction, vaccine passports are simply insufficient, especially given the multiple other means by which we could have safely and effectively done so.
If we, as a global community, could employ the multiple other means by which we might drive this virus to extinction, even alongside a trusted and targeted vaccination regime, we might stand a chance at eliminating it — or at this point, living safely with it.