The solution to the possibly discriminatory nature of Covid passports

The end of lockdown and the return to freedom is finally on the horizon. As part of the government’s plan to return to normality, they will be introducing Covid passports for people who want to go abroad. 

Currently, the government is on track to offer a first vaccine to the rest of the adult population by the end of July, with two further vaccines pending approval by the UK. As soon as all restrictions are lifted by 21st June, most people will want to venture outside of the country. Although airlines can deny access to those who haven’t yet been vaccinated, the passports are seen as being discriminatory towards anyone wanting to go abroad who has not yet had the vaccine or for anyone who doesn’t yet have a vaccine option available to them.

It is a fine balance between keeping the country safe by only permitting those who have been vaccinated to leave the country and not reinstating international travel for holiday-makers. Prolonging the opening of international travel to everyone will continue to have a negative effect on travel agents, which could lead to companies entering administration as they rely on international travel to enable them to remain operational. 

Instead of issuing a separate passport, the government could add an option on to the passport application form which asks applicants to state whether they’ve had the first Covid vaccine (as the second is a booster) and to send in evidence to say they’ve had it. This would help prevent people from ticking the box just so they can go abroad who haven’t yet had the vaccine. It would then be up to travel agents and booking websites, such as Expedia, to allow them to go abroad, self-isolating or providing a negative Covid test upon arrival in both their destination country and the UK. Children could remain exempt from this, unless their parent/s have to self-isolate. 

Once the adult population has been given their first dose of the vaccine, the government could allow schools to invite nurses in to vaccinate their pupils (like they distribute the HPV vaccine and the single combined diphtheria, tetanus, and polio vaccine). Doctors’ surgeries could also distribute the Covid vaccine to newborns as part of their initial vaccinations. This way, everyone is receiving the Covid vaccine, and no-one is being left out or discriminated against when the passports are eventually introduced. 

In the meantime, the government could postpone the distribution of the passports until the whole adult population has been vaccinated. Alternatively, they could scrap the idea altogether. Our current passports don’t have any mention of being protected against other killer diseases, though having the vaccination prior to travelling might be a requirement, so Covid shouldn’t be any different. 

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Max Wrigley

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November 2021
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