Weekly Poll – Vaccine Passports (Week Beginning 1 March 2021)
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 1 March 2021, we asked a question about vaccine passports.
Should vaccine passports be introduced in Scotland?
- YES – 57% (89 respondents)
- NO – 43% (66 respondents)
We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
A narrow majority of respondents (57%) believed vaccine passports should be introduced in Scotland. There was recognition that the proposed scheme could provide reassurances to the public and staff in domestic settings like pubs and theatres, and for international travel. It may also allow for businesses to operate at higher capacities, even while some COVID-19 restrictions are still in place.
“This would be extremely reassuring for both the organisations who are reopening and the people who are using their services.”
“A carefully thought-out system could help us keep our lives as normal as possible instead of swinging from lockdown to lockdown. Used correctly at large group gatherings, sports games, music festivals, theatres, and travelling abroad would reduce risk of transmission if status known and documented.”
“If it’s to keep all people safe then it’s right to have that option. Restaurant, pubs, hotels, gigs, and everything else. I would agree to have the app or sheet of paper to say I’ve had my jab.”
“I would feel safer to check in and board a plane knowing that other passengers have been vaccinated.”
Some respondents believed the vaccine passport should be introduced for international travel purposes only, and not for domestic reasons, such as gaining access to public services.
“I feel that a vaccine passport would benefit a lot of people, especially those who go on holiday. I do not feel it should be used in the United Kingdom to check people going out to eat, or anywhere people gather, due to discrimination of those people who are unable to have the jag. But a vaccine passport should be a global item, to help prevent people coming into the UK with the virus.”
“Surely evidence should only be needed for those travelling abroad; and as so, a simple stamp in the passport should be the cheapest and quickest method.”
“I used to have vaccination certificates in my physical passport when I did a lot of travelling for work (yellow fever, polio, etc) so I assume a similar vaccination certificate could be produced for international travel.”
If such a scheme is introduced, it needs to be carefully planned with meaningful engagement with disabled people. There were concerns about the format of an electronic passport, which may not be accessible for people who are unable to use or afford a smartphone. If such a scheme is introduced, there needs to be a paper-based equivalent to complement a smartphone app.
“Not through the use of a smartphone as my tactility does not allow me to use one.”
“Although I think vaccine passports are a good way to monitor the virus, I don’t think I would want it on my phone along with so much information that ends up there. Also, not everyone can afford a mobile phone.”
“There has to be a paper version for those of us who don’t have a mobile phone that has app facility. This being introduced will help those of us who attend concerts as i expect we will be asked for proof to gain admission.”
“If they were paper passports, it would be ok, but the government is planning to use electronic passports. They are useless to those who live in areas where mobiles cannot be used because there is no signal.”
“Not unless there is a non-technical version. For example, I would have downloaded the trace and track app, but my phone is too old for it to work on and I cannot afford, nor do I want a new mobile. So, if an app is used it means I won’t have a passport. My face covering exemption card on a lanyard works well, and I would be willing to carry a paper or card one”
The proposed scheme must also be designed to respect data protection, security, and privacy; along with various measures to mitigate fraudulent activity.
“The method of providing passports that minimises the opportunities to provide fake passports is very important. There was talk of them being linked in some way to the test and trace system.”
“The passports must be designed and used in such a way that they are not used fraudulently.
“There are inherent security and data risks that must be addressed”
Respondents who are against the introduction of vaccine passports raised concerns that the scheme may breach human rights and discriminate against those who are waiting for the vaccine, cannot have it, or do not want it. This may apply to disabled people who are unable to or are not recommended to take the vaccine, for medical reasons. If the scheme is rolled out before everyone has been offered the vaccine, this could impact on age groups that are further down on the priority list.
“I have autoimmune disease so it is unlikely I’ll be able to get the vaccine any time soon. This is an immensely discriminatory practice with wide reaching consequences for disabled people.”
“Many people have their reasons for not taking any vaccine, perhaps religious, ethical, etc. I feel it would be discriminatory to treat people differently for not being vaccinated.”
“It will inevitably and undoubtedly add to the health inequalities that already so shamefully exist and will impact disproportionately on those people who are already marginalised.”
“There are some people who are unable to have the vaccine due to medical reasons. No one should be penalised for not having the vaccine. It is an individual’s right to refuse or accept the vaccine without coercion.”
“A vaccine passport ostracises those who cannot receive the vaccine and also penalises those who do not want to. It is an infringement of personal choice.”
“There is also a risk that young people who have made great sacrifices during COVID will be prevented from accessing services until the end of the pandemic as these will be the last to be vaccinated. This would be unfair.”
There were suggestions from respondents to introduce an exemption scheme alongside the vaccine passport, for people who are unable to receive the vaccine.
“If you have been advised against the vaccination, by a doctor or consultant there should still be a passport available as it is not the clinically vulnerable people’s fault, they cannot receive the vaccine. But the system needs to be more robust than for example the sunflower lanyard scheme where anti-maskers are using sunflower lanyards to avoid wearing a mask.”
“It is a yes but it would be important to have a medically exempt passport too. People who can’t have the vaccine due to medical issues should have an exemption passport that is medically backed – to prevent it being used by antivax people, in the way that the sunflower lanyard has been taken and lost much of its credence.”
“There should be something similar in place to a vaccine passport for people who can’t take the vaccine for health reasons, so they are not being discriminated against.”
To conclude, a narrow majority of respondents support the introduction of vaccine passports, which may provide a level of reassurance to the public and staff in domestic settings such as pubs and theatres, and for international travel. When implementing such a scheme, it is vital to recognise that not all people have access to smartphones and a paper equivalent must be made available. There was considerable concern from respondents about the potential for the scheme to discriminate against various groups who are waiting for the vaccine, cannot have it, or do not want it. Some respondents suggested an exemptions scheme that can launch alongside the passport, so that people who have not been vaccinated can still have fair access to essential goods and services.