Thursday, April 22, 2021

The case for secure vaccine passports

Scriber’s roving Editor-at-Large, Sherry, tags this column by Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post: We should soon stop catering to the vaccine holdouts.

Scriber thinks secure vaccine passports would be a worthy federal investment.


When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced a “pause” in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of a tiny number of instances in which women developed blood clots after getting the shot, many recoiled in horror. The vaccine rollout will be jeopardized! They will only fuel vaccine hesitancy! No, and no.

The latest Axios-Ipsos survey finds it had the opposite effect, as predicted by Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser. “Ninety-one percent of Americans have heard of the pause, showing a clear breakthrough of the issue in our collective consciousness in a very short period of time,” the poll reported on Tuesday. “Nearly the same number, 88%, feel the FDA and CDC are acting responsibly by recommending a pause in the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine (among those that have heard of the pause).” It was not even close — even among Republicans: “Americans, regardless of political affiliation, feel health officials are acting responsibly by recommending the pause in the one-dose vaccines; 87% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats agree.”

In other words, no one can blame responsible health-care officials for residual, militant vaccine hesitancy. The number of those who do not want the vaccine (roughly 20 percent) has been immovable since January, suggesting these people — which includes as much as 40 percent of Republicans — are impervious to reason and facts.

In fact, a recent focus group of vaccine-hesitant voters found that some of these people would lie about being vaccinated. The Post reports: “Most participants said they would want a fake vaccination card that would allow them to claim they had received shots, after [GOP pollster Frank] Luntz granted them anonymity to speak honestly.” Given the existence of such self-destructive, selfish and potentially deceitful people, secure vaccine passports are warranted.

Fortunately, Biden announced on Wednesday that the United States had reached 200 million shots administered — well in advance of his presidency’s 100-day mark and double his original goal of 100 million in his first 100 days. That means more than half of adults have received at least one shot, including more than 80 percent of seniors. Among teachers, school personnel and child-care workers, more than 80 percent received one shot in a month.

After making dramatic progress in mitigation and vaccination efforts, committing billions of dollars and supplying a constant flow of indisputable medical evidence that, once fully vaccinated, you have near 100 percent immunity, Biden went a step further. He asked employers to give workers paid time off to get the shot or to recover from the side effects — and then offered to reimburse employers.

At some point, only the willfully ignorant and destructive will remain unvaccinated. Once that happens, employers, retail establishments, entertainment venues, public buildings, public transportation, colleges and (when vaccines are approved for children) K–12 schools should insist that people present a secure form of proof of vaccination before entering.

The resolutely anti-vaccination crowd will holler about their “freedom” being taken away. Nonsense. Schools already require an array of vaccinations for children. Public and private establishments can require shoes and shirts. Employers can require safety equipment be worn. The ornery holdouts won’t be mandated by the government to get shots, but they should not be able to enjoy the benefits, privileges and access that responsible Americans have earned by getting vaccinated.

There is no right to remain a breeding ground for dangerous coronavirus variants or a threat to the small number of people still susceptible to the virus despite their vaccinations (known as breakthrough infections). The country is approaching the point when it should stop catering to those bent on being a danger to themselves and others. We have all sacrificed too much for too long to indulge reckless conduct.


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