In Defense of Vaccine Passports

In Defense of Vaccine Passports
Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
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As a lifelong privacy advocate, I feel it is necessary to highlight issues that may jeopardize the privacy of individuals and consumers. In 2007, when I created the original GPS embedded sneakers to keep Alzheimer’s patients and other vulnerable people safe, many encouraged me to overlook the need for a privacy component on the shoe in exchange for convenience and affordability. I ignored that advice and ensured that the users of the shoes had the option to apply the GPS function using a button only when necessary and when desired. To this day, I believe in and champion privacy of the user always, and am surprised and disappointed by the U.S. government’s decision to stay out of the vaccine passport debate. In doing so, they are putting everyone’s privacy at risk, in addition to our health and the future of the global economy. 

Importantly, the government does not need to make vaccine passports mandatory in order to show support for their use in vaccination verification. Showing support for such measures is for the good of the people of the United States and around the world. Their stance in pushing the public to be vaccinated is incomplete if it does not include efforts that ensure those who have been vaccinated or tested can feel safe and be safe. Supporting vaccine passport usage does just that.  

Having random individuals asking people directly if they have the COVID-19 virus would certainly create privacy issues. Instead, the vaccine passport means we don’t need to ask questions or wonder if the person next to us has or has not been vaccinated, or has or has not been tested.  

Vaccination passports only include basic information like a name, date of birth, and address – information already on one's driver’s license. The vaccination passport will not hold a person’s health records. In addition, it is possible for the verification to be confirmed with the CDC without collecting or misusing citizens’ biographical data.  

Secondly, we need to make sure that businesses are also very comfortable in bringing their employees back into the workplace – a safe workplace. That’s why we have OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) and Workers’ Compensation liability insurance. Businesses can’t be expected to abide by health and safety rules and regulations without addressing the need to curtail the spread of COVID-19. 

Even if the government is leaving it up to private industry to figure out how they will get their businesses back up and running, the government should at least approve and support a universal option that can work if applied intelligently. Turning its back on vaccine passports is wrong. America needs to get back to work -- if we don’t use a trusted verification process to confirm who’s been vaccinated, entire office buildings might quickly become hot zones for the virus, and employees who become infected would hold these companies and building owners liable. 

Have we forgotten what happened at Tyson Foods last year? 

There is an easy solution. The vaccine passport. Simply put, it is a document that says you have been vaccinated, or you’ve tested negative, and that the result has been verified.  

When people travel to other countries, they have no qualms about getting a visa. They have to comply with the regulations of that country.

Vaccine passports also create a far greater equitable situation, given that businesses and employees who are suffering the most are typically in the low-income group. 

While the government should not be involved in every aspect of our lives, it has inserted itself every step of the way in response to this pandemic. It is irresponsible for the government to pull out now and leave us hanging without support of a private and simple way to verify our vaccination history with a vaccination passport. It’s as if the government doesn’t want to help businesses reopen, employees to return to work, international travel to resume, face-to-face business to take place, and international commerce to recommence. 

Unfortunately, the government’s approach to handling the topic of vaccination passports has shown no clear understanding of how they could help us get one step closer to closing the door on the pandemic.

Isaac Daniel is a scientist, investor, entrepreneur, and inventor of the VAX Passbook.

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