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Vaccine passports are unethical and classist

By Mecca Fowler

Vaccine passports are certainly unethical. Arguably, they’re classist too.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hammered the United States in 2020, a once-in-a-lifetime polarizing divide emerged. The question became on what appropriate measures to take to mitigate the spread. Many states implemented a 2-week lockdown. They quickly became hesitant, though, once their civilians decided they needed to get back to work. 

Some states implemented draconian lockdowns that seemed like they would never end, while residents remained out of work. Some citizens felt that the government took extreme measures categorized as government overreach. 

Others complained federal and local governments didn’t do enough to implement constraints on their citizens. This divide showed the extent to which we’re comfortable with risking personal liberties for the sake of the greater good. 

After receiving COVID-19 vaccines, many Americans are enthusiastic to resume in-person activities, socializing and travelling. The deep desires to return to normalcy are felt all over the country. 

This past year has been understandably confusing because no one has experienced anything of this size. However, the idea of what is and isn’t safe to do post-pandemic is subjective to each person. 

Certainly no one wants to engage in behavior that could put them at risk for contracting COVID-19. But we have reached a point where people should get comfortable with the idea that they cannot control what others do. We can listen to the CDC’s guidelines, but the next person may not. 

It doesn’t help that the “experts” and scientists flip-flopped on their messaging for over a year. At this point, it’s time to go on your own. Despite what your favorite celebrities or politicians told you last year, we are not “all in this together.” This became clear as we watched several high-profile politicians break their own COVID-19 safety measures. 

Simply put, imposing one’s will to hinder another person’s liberty is out of touch with reality. You can’t make someone do something that they do not want to do. No matter how many bribes governments offer citizens to get the vaccine, if people don’t want it, they won’t budge. 

Frankly, the bribes weaken the argument that the COVID-19 vaccine is worth getting anyways. Furthermore, bribes like free Krispy Kreme doughnuts laugh in the face at the state of health in this country. 

The rush to open the country back up has left a slim majority in favor of mandatory vaccination via vaccine passports. However, the idea of a COVID-19 vaccination passport is yet another intrusive governmental overreach. The general public has failed to consider people’s individual needs and situations outside of their own. There are several reasons why vaccine passports are unethical and classist.  

On ethics: 

The first issue is the ethics behind vaccine passports. Mandating citizens take a vaccine that may not agree with their body is wrong. The COVID-19 vaccines aren’t a one-size-fit-all solution either. For one, not everyone is eligible to receive it. Secondly, the dust hasn’t settled about the vaccine’s side effects.  

We won’t have the data on the vaccine’s effect on pregnant women until later this year. It would be a tragedy if even a mandatory vaccine harmed even one woman’s pregnancy. The vaccine can even affect your menstrual cycle. Additionally, there are several things officials still don’t know.  

The next issue is determining how long the COVID-19 vaccine protects people. Several people have already tested positive for the virus even after being fully vaccinated. With the new variants spreading globally, the science is up in the air in deciding which ones we’re protected against. 

How can we mandate a vaccine that we aren’t even sure will continue to work? 

The starting and stopping of several vaccination efforts over the last year has left many in this country unconfident too. Yes, this is a normal reaction to something unfamiliar. But often people shame anyone who brings this up, labeling them “anti-vaxxers.” 

More so, when post-vaccine health concerns come up, the CDC doesn’t treat them seriously. 

Religious exemptions offer another issue with vaccine passports. It’s a slippery slope to punish people who don’t use vaccines for religious reasons. Some states already describe it as discriminatory. 

Lastly, the CDC hasn’t reviewed the implications of taking the vaccine if you have pre-existing conditions. The CDC itself says, “People with autoimmune conditions may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, they should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people with autoimmune conditions. People from this group were eligible for enrollment in some of the clinical trials.” 

On Classism: 

Using vaccination status to segregate people is classist. Some argue it’s outright racist too. Often, minority communities don’t even have equal access to the vaccine. 

Even more, some homeless people don’t have access to sign up for the vaccine too. How would digital vaccine passports work for people without smartphones? There are many questions the general public should consider before making sweeping decisions.  

Finally, it’s classist to bar people from public places based on vaccination status. 

Should grocery stores bar people trying to feed their family if they aren’t vaccinated? Do we let people starve because they aren’t vaccinated? Do we end their employment and stiffen their ability to work because of their vaccination status? Who gets to determine which public venues require the vaccination passport? Government officials need to figure out these dramatic measures. 

So far, President Biden said he has no plans on making the vaccines mandatory at the federal level. He did, however, say that he’s leaving the option open for corporations and states to implement themselves. 

Recently, venues like concerts and sports events announced they’ll check vaccination status upon entry. 23 states also either signed bills to prohibit vaccine passports from being used or considered banning them.  

With so much left up in the air about the vaccines, it would be senseless to impose vaccine passports right now. Placing mandates of this size on other people’s bodies is treading into unforeseen territory. 

Overall, the concept of a vaccine passport and/or mandating that individuals be vaccinated so they can partake in society is wrong. The burden shouldn’t be on others in society to make the vaccinated feel comfortable. If one is vaccinated, they should feel comfortable around others who aren’t because they should have faith that they’re protected. 

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Mecca Fowler


Mecca Fowler is a passionate writer with a background in journalism and social media management. She is a free-speech advocate who hones in on her ability to reach across political spectrums to have engaging and transformative conversations to push the conscious of American culture forward.

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