AS the vaccination programme continues at an astonishing pace, many see the jab as the first step towards being able to travel again.

But as yet, there has been no global agreement on whether proof of vaccination will be needed to travel. Both Greece and Israel have indicated they will offer vaccinated travellers no restrictions and Spain is saying it WILL welcome Brits this summer. Over-50s travel specialist Saga has confirmed a vaccination will be needed to book any of their holidays or cruises.

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Despite some mixed messages, the Government is apparently now looking into the idea of a vaccine passport. According to the travel insurance provider Battleface, 65 per cent of Brits would be prepared to take a vaccine that has passed all necessary tests if it meant they could travel internationally. This increases to 74 per cent of those aged over 55.

So are vaccine passports a good idea? Travel experts and writers here argue for and against.

Bad idea

GLORIA GUEVARA 

President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council

OPPOSING a vaccine passport, which is meant to get international travel moving again, may seem an odd position for the World Travel & Tourism Council to take. But a vaccine passport could do exactly the opposite; close doors, rather than open them. 

Those with vaccine passports could find their travel is restricted just to countries where the vaccine has been rolled out. 

It could even halt travel in its tracks to much of the world where the vaccine rollout is slower, especially to and from less well-off countries, which often depend on the crucial spend from travel and tourism for their economies.

No one would dispute that the most vulnerable in our society should benefit from being vaccinated first. 

But WTTC also fears younger travellers, who are likely to be the last to receive the vaccine and vaccine passports, would be unfairly discriminated against — and could be the last to resume travelling.

Furthermore, a document that holds all the medical and vaccination history of an individual could cause issues with data privacy amongst others.

Vaccine passports also just add another layer of bureaucratic complexity to international travel, which would also further delay its restoration. 

We know there are better, fairer and easier solutions, which involve rapid testing, mask wearing, social distancing and quarantines only for those who test positive.

WTTC firmly believes international travel will only take place if all countries introduce internationally-recognised, rapid and affordable testing at departure and arrival points worldwide. This would stop exporting the virus, protect public health and restart international travel for everyone. 

SARAH ARNOLD

Writer and data scientist

A VACCINATION passport is a lovely notion, but that’s all it will be. 

By the time there’s some form of semblance of a vaccine passport, we’ll be on to the next pandemic and we will have more to worry about than this.

Additionally, how long will immunity last? We may need top-up vaccines just to beat the strains it is effective against now. 

What’s scary are the variants that are more contagious than ones appearing in recent months. Even scarier than that is when they become vaccine resistant.

Lastly, what about those people we are all getting vaccinated for? You know, the ones who for medical reasons can’t receive their jab. They’re someone’s child, partner, granny. Are you supposed to go on holiday without them?

Vaccination passports are something that people have optimistically dreamt up in recent lockdowns, but that’s all they will be: a fairy tale. 

Good idea

LEE BEAUMANN

Travel writer 

COVID jabs? Vaccine passport? Bring ’em on, I say.

After months of being grounded, I’ll do anything to get out. And if that means getting a tick in some app on my iPhone to say I’ve been jabbed for this miserable virus, then so be it.

A couple of decades ago, when heading to Africa, I had to get (and pay for) jabs for yellow fever and cholera. They were recorded in a booklet (yellow, appropriately) for me to take as proof.

I was no more worried about catching those diseases then than I am about getting Covid now. But that’s what I had to do then and I don’t see this as any different. Except instead of a piece of paper, it will be online.

Over 50s-favourite Saga already says you need proof of two jabs before going on its cruise ships or holidays, so does American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines out in the US.

I’ll bet others will follow. Countries, airlines, hotels, cruise lines: All will want proof we’re fully inoculated before they welcome us back. 

The anti-passporteers cry unfair, invasion of privacy. I say we need our lives back and if this is the way to do it, so be it. I’ll even cough up for the passport if I have to. Frankly if they don’t want to, no one is forcing them. 

DR GRAHAM FRY 

Medical Director, Nomad Travel Clinics

FOR many decades, societies throughout the world have used vaccine passports to provide protection against a number of infectious diseases both for travellers entering their shores and also, even more importantly, to help protect their local populations. 

It is an accepted and sensible approach in our age of rapid travel, especially in the middle of an ill-controlled global pandemic, where the human remains the most notorious vehicle of transmission. 

The concept of a vaccine passport is securely based around the provision of a suitable vaccine. 

With many diseases this has not been an option: Black Death (1346-53), Smallpox (USA 1617-19), Spanish Flu (1918), HIV (1980 to present), but with Covid-19 we are now at the point where the option to vaccinate has become a reality. 

Once the protection provided by a vaccine is understood and clearly identified to be at an acceptable level to significantly control a disease, then those covered in this way can, and should be allowed more freedom to move within society. 

They will pose no risk to other members of the population and can fully contribute towards all activities of daily living. 

Let us not run the risk of prolonging this deadly disease by allowing calls of “personal freedom of choice” to negate the reality of providing protection for the majority. 

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