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Will Vaccination Passports Bring back Normal Life?

A man presents his "green passport," proof that he is vaccinated against the coronavirus, on opening night at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Will Vaccination Passports Bring Back Normal Life?
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Do you wish you could attend a live music performance sometime soon?

If you have received a coronavirus vaccine in some countries, you might be able to. It usually takes a ticket to gain entrance to a music performance. But in some countries right now, you need more than that. You need a “green passport” which proves that you have already received a vaccination.

Green passports are already being used in Israel, Greece and Cyprus. Those countries on the Mediterranean Sea are working together to open their economies and honor each other’s green passports. Similar agreements are expected to be used in other nations to boost the number of foreign visitors.

Aviv Geffen recently played piano for 300 people in Tel Aviv, Israel. He called the event “a miracle.” Geffen said: “It’s really the only way forward at the moment.” Yuli Edelstein is the Health Minister in Israel. He said people who choose not to get the vaccine will be “left behind.”

People who came to Geffen’s performance needed not only a ticket, but also proof of vaccination. Geffen said people will not be able to live their lives in the post-coronavirus world without receiving a vaccination. “We must take the vaccines. We must,” he said.

If some activities are only available to people who have received a vaccine shot, that could become a problem. Right now vaccines are mostly available in rich countries with good public health systems. Israel is a country like that. The small country has enough vaccine to treat all of its citizens over the age of 16. The government, however, has been criticized for being slow to provide vaccines to Palestinians who live in the territories partly occupied by Israel.

People who are observing the worldwide effort to provide vaccines say that rich countries will get “herd immunity” sooner than poor countries. Lawrence Gostin is a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law. He called this problem “a moral crisis.”

He wondered whether it is fair to let rich countries open up faster than poor countries. Poor countries might not reach herd immunity for a number of years. People in rich countries already have more than people in poor countries, he said.

Afghan health ministry workers unloads boxes of the first shipment of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine made by Serum Institute of India, donated by the Indian government to Afghanistan.
Afghan health ministry workers unloads boxes of the first shipment of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine made by Serum Institute of India, donated by the Indian government to Afghanistan.

In 2020 the WHO formed COVAX. Its goal was to get vaccines to poor countries at about the same time they were getting to rich countries. Recently Ghana, a country in West Africa, was the first to receive vaccines from COVAX. Vaccines are now going to an increasing number of countries through the program. About 80 percent of the 210 million doses of vaccine administered around the world so far have gone to rich countries. Drug companies in some of those countries developed the vaccines.

People who have already been vaccinated are excited to get back to some version of their old lives. Countries like Great Britain are studying the use of a “COVID status certification.” Such a measure would permit people to go back to work or attend large gatherings.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed some concern. “We can’t be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can’t have the vaccine,” he said.

A vaccination passport program could possibly help businesses that depend on visitors from other countries. But there is a concern that one country may not accept another country’s certification.

Andrew Bud runs a company called iProov that is working with the National Health Service in Britain. His company is testing an electronic vaccination passport technology.

He said, in time, technology problems can be solved.

But the more difficult problems will be “ethical, social, political and legal.” The question, he said, is “how to balance the fundamental rights of citizens...with the benefits to society.”

I’m Dan Friedell.

Laurie Kellman wrote this story for the Associated Press. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

Do you think you will travel if you have a vaccine passport sometime soon? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

ticket - n. a piece of paper that allows you to see a show, participate in an event, travel on a vehicle, etc.

miracle - n. a very amazing or unusual event, thing, or achievement

herd immunity - n. when enough people in a community have either recovered from an infection or been vaccinated against it, so that others in the community are protected against infection

dose –n. the amount of a medicine or vaccine that is taken at one time

status –n. the official position of a person under the law

certification ­–n. official approval to do something legally

ethical - adj. following accepted rules of behavior : morally right and good

benefits - n. a good or helpful result or effect

society - n. people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values