Opinion | The Controversy Over Vaccination Passports

Readers address the arguments for and against requiring proof of vaccination for travel and other activities.

To the Editor:

Re “Privacy, Politics and the Push to Require Proof You’ve Been Immunized” (Business, April 15):

I am puzzled by this controversy over proofs of vaccination. International travelers have long carried the W.H.O.-issued International Certificate of Vaccination. Until 1982 countries required proof of vaccination against smallpox. Some South American and African countries still require proof of yellow fever vaccination. What is the difficulty with adding Covid-19 to the list of diseases?

Meredeth Turshen
Hoboken, N.J.

To the Editor:

I am a polio survivor, and my legs are paralyzed because I did not have access to the polio vaccine when I was an infant in India in the late 1970s. As an immunization advocate, I am hopeful that an approach like encouraging the use of vaccine passports to promote the Covid-19 vaccine can be useful to not only help end this pandemic, but also raise awareness and funding to increase equitable access to all vaccines worldwide.

Vaccines save lives. The World Health Organization indicates that vaccines save 2.5 million lives every year. However, there are 1.5 million deaths each year from vaccine-preventable disease because one in five children lacks access to so many basic vaccines.

The current pandemic underscores the need for equal access to vaccines, not just Covid-19, but others as well.

Minda Dentler
New York

To the Editor:

We believe that vaccine passports would be yet another measure that widens the gap between the haves and have-nots. There are myriad problems and challenges with these passports.

For how long would such passports be valid? What will happen to passports when variants that reduce vaccine efficacy become dominant in a community? What about those with immunity due to natural infection — highly comparable or perhaps better than vaccine-induced immunity? And how can one equitably treat those with true contraindications such as anaphylaxis to similar vaccines?

An inequitable society cannot equitably provide passports. The less privileged are less likely to have immediate access to vaccines, to be able to travel to get vaccinated, to be able to go to the show or the gym that the passport allows. When viewed in a societal context, a vaccine passport allows the privileged to resume their privileges.

The appeal of the concept of a vaccine passport is obvious. The realities make passports problematic. We cannot support them.

Manish Joshi
Thaddeus Bartter
Anita Joshi
Little Rock, Ark.
Dr. Joshi and Dr. Bartter are pulmonologists, and Dr. Joshi is an epidemiologist.

To the Editor:

Now it’s vaccination requirements and the idea of passports that could infringe on individual freedom. Crazy proposals! This is America — shouldn’t we all be allowed to put one another at risk whenever we feel like it?

This is like telling me that I can’t drive on the left side of the road. Or shoot anyone on a whim. Or pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing. Absolute lunacy! After all, this is my liberty at stake! I mean, come on. This is a free country. Isn’t it?

Ed LaFreniere
Scottsdale, Ariz.

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