What is a vaccine passport and how might it be used? Yahoo News Explains

Many countries have indicated they are either considering or are already developing coronavirus vaccine passport systems for anyone wishing to travel. But what are these systems? And how might they be used? Yahoo News speaks to Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and Nick Careen, senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to find out.

Video transcript


AMESH A. ADALJA: A vaccine passport is basically a way of proving your vaccination status against any disease and it's not new. They've existed for a long time. For example, with yellow fever, and this is a yellow fever card that I keep in my passport that tells people when I'm going into a country, for example, like Peru, that I've been vaccinated against yellow fever and that I can enter without any kind of issue.

This is likely to happen with COVID-19 in some countries, because when you are traveling to another country, the vaccination timeframe may be very different, and they may be worried about importation of disease, and they may say if you're not vaccinated, you have to go through a 14 day quarantine period or you have to get tested. And if you can prove that you're vaccinated, you may be able to forego those processes and enter more freely.


NICK CAREEN: The pass. The pass is pretty basic. It's digitizing an existing manual process in our airports. So today, you know, it'll be a requirement to travel. It does need-- and most governments are asking for-- some sort of certificate. Right now, it is a negative COVID test. In the future, it will also be a vaccine certificate. Governments need it because they are looking for trust as well.

When they open up their borders-- I mean, borders are closed because of the fear of importation primarily around mutations of the virus. And so this type of system and others will give that confidence, will allow for the process to be seamless and a little bit smoother, and it really is, it really is about making sure that when we restart, the restart is meaningful, and that we don't end up setting ourselves back in five months because we didn't-- we weren't prepared.


AMESH A. ADALJA: The point is we want everybody to be vaccinated, and when you get vaccinated, it adds value to your life. That's why you're getting vaccinated, so I don't it's, I think it's only natural that people would treat vaccinated people different than unvaccinated people.

And I think it's interesting, because you know, it's not just COVID-19 where there is disparities in vaccination rates. Because if you look at measles vaccination rates or chickenpox vaccination rates or even influenza vaccination rates, they're very different around the world. And this is just an example, another example of the fact that we have to do better at rolling out vaccines in all corners of the globe.

And I think it will likely be a temporary status until the world catches up and until our vulnerable populations are vaccinated to the point that COVID-19 is not something that is considered a public health emergency as people are not dying and hospital capacity isn't threatened by cases.