There are tons of questions being thrown around right now regarding vaccines, their effectiveness against the COVID-19 virus in regard to travel, and whether or not a person is safe to resume 'normal' activities once they've received the full dose of the vaccine. With the CDC recently stating that vaccinated people can travel domestically, and with some international countries even offering options for travelers who have been fully vaccinated, one thing has been brought up, in particular: a vaccine passport.
While it doesn't look like the U.S. will be requiring a vaccine passport according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, that doesn't mean other countries won't encourage the use of one. So, what exactly is this passport and what will it look like? Even more so, how will a vaccinated traveler use it and what will it provide access to? Will it be digital or will it be similar to that of an actual book passport? With so many questions to answer, a person can easily feel overwhelmed by the future of travel and whether or not they'll be able to do so before having this piece of proof.
What Is A Vaccine Passport?
The most important thing to know about a vaccine passport is that it's not just used for keeping a digital record of a person's vaccination. While this will be the first purpose for the passport it won't be the only purpose; these passports will also keep track of COVID-19 tests and their results, logging positive or negative results for a person along with the date of each. The app will likely have even more of an intended purpose, as well, with things such as safety information and travel recommendations available within it. In the future, this app will be useful for travelers who want to input additional health data, as well.
Is This The First Time A Vaccine Will Be Necessary To Travel?
In short, the answer is no. This is not the first time that countries have required proof of vaccinations in order for travelers to enter the country and it won't likely be the last.
There were some countries prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that required proof of certain vaccines prior to entering the country and it was likely forgotten because they were vaccines that most adults received at a young age. Therefore, this process is nothing new - it's just being brought to the surface again in the modern era.
How Will The Vaccine Passport Work?
Although it's being called a 'vaccine' passport, it's really just a health passport. Currently, there are multiple 'passports' that are being created with one called Travel Pass, by the International Air Transport Association, and one called CommonPass, which is still in the works by Swiss NGO the World Economic Forum and The Commons Project Foundation, according to The Detroit News. In addition to that, there are many airlines that are currently developing their own apps regarding health data, along with airports, such as O'Hare International, that have launched their own.
While the passport itself will probably look similar across the board, the gist of its use is the same. Uploading a user's health information will probably become second nature for those who travel often as these apps will hold it all in one place and make it easy to show proof of vaccines and tests. It's quite possible that we might see apps that allow users to connect to labs and doctor's offices right from the app, which means a user's records can be accessed easily without going anywhere but the app itself. So, how will this information be used by airlines, airports, and other transportation hubs? With the use of a QR code. This code will be scanned during entrance and exit and with one scan, the health data needed can be accessed. Once proof of a vaccine or a negative test has been provided, travelers will likely get a wristband or some other type of identification so that they won't need to scan their app again, and will be permitted to enter the country.
Will A Vaccine Or Health Passport Be Necessary For Everyone In The Future?
According to the World Health Organization, at this point in time, a vaccine passport is not required for domestic or international travel. The reason for this is due to the ongoing vaccine studies; while the health effects and protective benefits have been studied extensively, there's no long-term data on whether or not the vaccines effectively stop the transmission of the virus beyond those who are vaccinated. So, while they're effective to keep a person from getting severely ill or from getting sick at all, there's ongoing research being done that will eventually determine the status of vaccine passports, as well. With that being said, there is an effort from the WHO regarding vaccine certificates, which is the first step to efficient, safe travel.