Opinion: Requiring Proof Of Vaccination Is A Slippery Slope

As COVID-19 cases and deaths begin to dip across the world and countries begin to weigh options about how to reopen safely, ethical questions have come into play. The morality of requiring people to prove that they have been vaccinated is not something that should be taken lightly when government officials look at next steps for re-opening their borders and allowing free movement within their territories.

Now, some nations are creating methods for citizens and travelers to prove that they have been vaccinated in order to re-enter society and travel abroad.

Israel has notably implemented a vaccination identification program. The Associated Press reports, “Inside Israel, green passports or badges obtained through an app is the coin of the realm. The country recently reached agreements with Greece and Cyprus to recognize each other’s green badges, and more such tourism-boosting accords are expected.” According to Reuters, China recently initiated “a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate for its citizens planning cross-border travels, joining other countries issuing similar documents as they seek ways to reopen their economies.” Most European countries continue to deny entry from the majority of foreign travelers, and the EU reportedly announced that it would create vaccine “passports,” as well.

At the moment, the United States requires all passengers arriving from outside the country to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before being granted entry.

Due to the widely held belief that COVID-19 spread so quickly in the first place due, in part, to the expansion of global travel in past decades, it’s understandable that countries might want travelers to test negative before crossing their borders.

This isn’t an entirely new concept. Before the pandemic, travelers were strongly encouraged to get vaccinated for a variety of illnesses before traveling abroad to certain countries. Similarly, when students enter universities and most primary schools, they have to prove vaccination records in order to protect their peers. It’s not out of the ordinary to require vaccinations, and after the intense year of the pandemic, it might seem like a good idea. However, the fears of the last year should not be a reason to enforce sweeping mandates before first considering the potential moral and ethical ramifications. 

Requiring people to provide proof of vaccination in order to travel may not appear as destructive as mandating it for everyday tasks. The concern, however, is not over a travel requirement, but rather where a move like this could lead.

Requiring a COVID vaccine has the potential to create inequality due to the fact that some countries have less access to vaccinations than others. It also puts certain unvaccinated travelers at a disadvantage, and if expanded into other areas of society, has the potential to be destructive.

Some have begun to discuss ways to not only utilize proof of vaccination for travel purposes, but also to require it of those who wish to attend public events and participate in “normal” life. This has the potential of making “vaccine passports” a part of everyday life, which would directly brand certain people as healthier than others — a move that should raise warning flags for anyone paying attention.

As Texas, Wyoming, Mississippi and other states begin to ease restrictions and lift mask mandates and business requirements, their local governments have been met with sharp criticism and anger from many. The mindset that people can choose how or when to protect themselves is evidently unwanted and deemed cruel towards those who wish to be protected by some larger entity — in this case the government. 

But the struggles of this year have proven that humans are typically interested in self-preservation. It’s a biological drive to protect one’s self and one’s family.

The requirement of proof of vaccination might seem like a good way to incentivize people to get vaccinated, but the question remains: is it necessary?

The creation of multiple effective vaccines in less than a year is nothing less than one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. Do people need a push to get the shot, or is the possibility to be vaccinated and finally feel safe from a virus that impacted the entire world and shut down the global economy incentive enough?

People should be allowed to make decisions about their own personal safety and find motivation without mandates. Vaccines are becoming more widely available, and President Biden directed states to allow all adults to be eligible for vaccination by May 1 in his presidential address on Thursday. In the coming months, it is assumed that anyone who wants to get the vaccine will have that ability. Those who do not want to get the vaccine shouldn’t be required to get it, either, since they are choosing to do so at their own risk. 

Historically, the labeling of certain people as “clean” and “unclean” hasn’t gone particularly well. Americans — and citizens of any country — should be wary of arbitrarily signing onto any idea which could create further social and cultural divisions. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination or an in-depth study of history to know where such actions can lead.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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