Anyone currently travelling is likely to have to produce a negative COVID test as well as entering a quarantine period. This makes it difficult for most of us to travel – especially as the costs can be large. One solution that is currently being looked at by governments and travel companies around the world is the possibility of digital vaccine passports – could this become reality and how would they work?
Many people believe that the best way to get the travel industry back up and running is by ensuring that the only people who can travel are those who are fully vaccinated. There is currently a huge international debate about how this would work and whether it is feasible. All nations would have to agree for the process to work efficiently.
Some European countries are already thinking ahead. Greece, who are keen to welcome tourists this summer, have urged the European Commission to introduce a vaccination certificate which would allow the freedom of movement for anyone who had been vaccinated. Estonia is currently creating ‘smart yellow cards’ which will function as digital vaccine certificates. Denmark is developing a digital vaccine passport, and Spain is compiling a database of vaccine refusers which it will share with the European Union.
Travel companies are also thinking ahead. Saga (who specialise in trips for the over-50s) have stated that all passengers on their 2021 holidays and cruises must be fully vaccinated. Australian airline, Qantas have said that travellers will eventually have to show proof of their vaccinations to board their flights. However, the current stance of the World Travel & Tourism Council is that the strategy for kick-starting international travel should be based on testing rather than vaccinations.
There are a few negatives of the vaccination passport idea. Some countries are administering vaccines faster than others, and younger adults are looking likely to be the last to receive their vaccinations. The vaccines are currently not licensed to be used on children. So how would this idea work if half the population hadn’t been allowed access to vaccines? It would also discriminate against anyone who didn’t want the vaccine or couldn’t have it at all for medical reasons.
However, there are already systems in place for other vaccinations for travel. Some countries require that visitors have a yellow fever vaccination prior to travelling, for example. This system is already in place and just needs the finer details refining. Most vaccine certificates are currently paper copies, so taking this system digital would streamline procedures for all vaccines, not just COVID.
There are no decisions yet, but we’ll be keeping our eye on the latest news and updating you if anything changes.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.