Vaccine Passports: Just the Ticket or a Ticket to Nowhere?

Disasters, wars, and pandemics should be times in which everyone works together against the common threat. We’re all in the same boat, so to speak.

Except we’re not in the same boat. Some have been able to work at home, have food delivered, and largely avoid the threat. Others—including those who made it possible for the first group to stay safe—remained exposed.

The vaccines were supposed to equalize us by protecting everyone. So far, they’re proving very safe and effective, including against the known variants. That was a big concern back in January.

Better yet, the latest studies show fully vaccinated people are protected not only against severe disease, but are also unlikely to infect others.

So the data is encouraging. But now we’re in an awkward in-between period.

  • The fully vaccinated population is very safe from either becoming sick themselves or spreading the virus.
  • Another (and for now, larger) not fully vaccinated population is still vulnerable, and still potential virus carriers.

If we ever were in the same boat, we’re certainly not anymore.

We spent months adapting to an environment where everyone was a potential virus vector. Measures like masks and social distancing were the best response we had. Now we have a sizable and growing number for whom these precautions are no longer as necessary. They naturally want to be freed from the burden.

Meanwhile, others who aren’t yet fully vaccinated want the same. But doing so may endanger both themselves and others.

Papers, Please

Vaccinated and unvaccinated people are both now circulating in public, and there’s no easy way to tell them apart. This is a problem. Vulnerable people can’t tell if those around them are safe or not.

It affects business, too. Theaters and music venues, for instance, will have more customers if they can offer reasonable assurance everyone in the crowd is vaccinated.

The problem will recede as more people are vaccinated. But for now, we need better solutions.

“Vaccine passports” are one idea. An app on your phone or some kind of secure document would prove you received the vaccine.

Some object to this on privacy grounds. They seem very concerned about having to prove they received a couple of injections.

But if you did, in fact, receive those injections, disclosing it to others doesn’t reveal anything private about your body. It just says you got some shots. That doesn’t seem unduly intrusive.

So for some, I think the real problem is…

  • They don’t want to be vaccinated, and they also
  • Want their choice to have no consequences.

The first part is fair. No one should be legally forced to receive a drug they don’t want.

But if you decline vaccination, it doesn’t follow that you still get the same privileges as those who chose differently, or didn’t have a choice at all. You aren’t the only one with rights.

Common Courtesy

Vaccine passports would have many possible uses. Some may be government-mandated: entering the country, riding a city bus, etc.

Are those proper? Maybe, but that will be up to federal, state, and local leaders.

Economically, the harder issue is private property. Can restaurant owners check vaccine passports before admitting someone? Should they?

That’s really not your choice, or mine. It’s a business decision for restaurant owners. They can judge what is best for their customers, workers, and communities.

But whatever the law says, common courtesy says property owners can set their own rules. If you don’t want to obey them, don’t go there.

Oddly, though, in the last year some otherwise courteous people who once defended private property rights stopped doing so. Now their supposed “right” to go wherever they want overrides the property rights of others.

That attitude isn’t just childish. It’s inconsistent with a free economy. It says “your” premises aren’t really yours. You must admit me even if you know I could harm your workers. That’s not freedom.

More to the point, businesses can’t operate that way. It would keep consumers wary about their safety, thereby prolonging the recession.

And we are all in the same boat on not wanting to see that outcome.

The Great Reset: The Collapse of the Biggest Bubble in History

 New York Times best-seller and renowned financial expert John Mauldin predicts an unprecedented financial crisis that could trigger in the next five years. Most investors seem completely unaware of the relentless pressure that’s building right now. Learn more here.

Related: Vaccine Boom and Bust