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Countries all over the world are betting on the rollout of vaccines to provide a clear route out of this pandemic. But every government now faces a major question: does it reopen certain parts of its economy – travel, theatre, concerts, even work – to everyone? Or just to those who have had the jab?
Early studies show that at least two of the major vaccines are effective in preventing transmission of the virus, as well as reducing severe symptoms. That means that if businesses, workplaces and borders are to reopen, one way to curb the risk of a new outbreak would be to demand some sort of proof of vaccination on entry – a ‘health pass’ or ‘vaccine passport’.
The question is already fraught with moral, ethical and legal issues. In the majority of countries, the vaccine will not be compulsory, and the pace of the rollout means many of us will still have to wait months. Many might not be able to take it at all for medical reasons, while others may object because of beliefs that are incompatible with vaccination. And only allowing certain freedoms and privileges to those who have had the shot would probably be seen as discriminatory by many people.
So will you really need to present a form of vaccination certificate to get into bars, restaurants and theatres? Will you need to have had the shot before you next go on holiday? And what even constitutes proof of vaccination? Here’s everything we know about ‘vaccine passports’ so far.