Are vaccine passports fair?


As part of a project since I retired (more or less), Christiane and I have been attending various activities under the general heading of continuing education or learning for life. We have been taking all kinds of courses at various venues—from the University of Manitoba to McNally Robinson Booksellers. Many of them have been truly amazing. It probably doesn’t show, but Christiane and I have learned a lot.

Recently we latched on to a new venue, the Rose and Max Rady Jewish Community Centre. This is a gem! It has all kinds of programs. Our first venture was a concert of music from 2 of Manitoba’s finest French musicians who played classic French Canadian music, including some wonderful country tunes. Our next venture was a lecture by my guru, Arthur Schafer, a professor of philosophy at the University of Manitoba and director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba. We participated via Zoom in a delightful talk by Professor Schafer on the subject of the ethics of vaccine passports. I is surprising how many ethical issues arise during a pandemic.

Professor Schafer pointed out to us that Israel has recently imposed what it calls a Green Passport. In Israel the rules of confinement imposed by Covid-19 requirements apply to everyone with very exceptions. One of the exceptions is that holders of green passports are entitled to move about freely as they wish, except that in public places they must wear a mask to protect others. The Green passport gives a record of one’s immunizations, including the date taken, and whether or not one has contracted Covid-19 to such an extent that antibodies have been produced in that person. If you have such a passport you can almost go anywhere you like free of encumbrances.

Other countries are now considering the same thing, including Canada. In some places they call it Vaccine Passport in others an immunity certificate, but the effect is always more or less the same. Special privileges are given to those with the Passport. Is this a good idea? Is it fair? Is it just?

Unlike Canada, in Israel 50% of the people have already received vaccinations . So, 50% of the people can do basically what they want, and the rest have to wait until they get their vaccine shot.  But the other 50% have to stay home and suck socks. Is that fair?

In Israel, as in other countries, some people object to vaccinations or are reluctant to take them, on religious or cultural grounds. Advocates for the program in Israel say it encourages people to take the vaccine. Opponents say the program is coercive, unfair, and unreasonable. Does the government have the right to coerce people to take the vaccine? What about people who can’t take the vaccine for medical reasons? Pregnant people are warned against taking the vaccine since there is currently insufficient evidence that the vaccine is healthy for a human fetus.

Now an incentive would be a good thing if the vaccine will protect our health system from being overwhelmed and posing a huge risk to many people and to protect our society and its citizens from devastating harm of the disease itself. These are both significant dangers. So avoiding them or mitigating them are a serious public good.

I ask you, is this reasonable or justified? What do you think? Tomorrow, I will give my views in my next post and I don’t want to influence anyone just yet.

Please give me the benefit of your opinions.

1 thought on “Are vaccine passports fair?

  1. As this would not be inclusive to all this does not seem to me to solve any problems. As we have seen with Variants already you only need one person to start the spread. So if the system now cannot keep track of the few travelers that are allowed to roam around from outside the country a green card would just allow more contact with more people which seems to be the cause of our swing cycle with covid. Step on the gas and get people vaccinated. Adding another level of freedom as well as freedom of choice as to whether you want to take the vaccine or not is not right in my opinion.

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