Can I travel with a COVID vaccine passport?

Traveller preparing for a trip during Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 vaccination certificate in hand of a immune person

Written by Ray

March 23, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed traveling in ways no one anticipated. The world was caught unprepared with how quickly the virus has spread. Growing into a health crisis and devastating millions worldwide.

From closing borders, quarantine protocols on a mass scale, cancelation of flights, travel bans, the travel industry, and other sectors began to plummet. Consequently, most global destinations had implemented travel restrictions at the pandemic’s height, which has devastated the travel sector.

While many have thought that the pandemic would only last a few months, people are now living with the reality that the pandemic is here to stay unless effective and safe vaccines are administered.

Fortunately, many countries are now emerging from lockdowns, and people are now looking forward to traveling and going to places as one would expect from someone confined inside their homes for months.

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However, traveling is not as simple as it was before. The “new normal” is something many are yet to be accustomed to: but, it may become normal for many sooner or later.

Today, traveling would mean wearing masks, face shields, constant sanitation, contact tracing apps, and COVID-19 testing, which is perhaps the most important pass allowing people to travel. Many countries require travelers to take PCR Test ensuring that a traveler does not have an active infection.

Considered the “gold standard” in identifying an infected person, the PCR swab test is the most accurate as it detects the virus’s genetic information, allowing people to know whether or not someone has the virus.

Therefore, people who test positive can be isolated early and quarantine those who have been in direct contact with them.

People can also take the Rapid antigen test three days before their flight schedule and present the negative result before boarding the flight. Unlike the PCR test, results are returned the same day the test is taken, usually within 15-20 minutes. However, this form of testing is less accurate and accepted by fewer countries.

However, with the development of the vaccine, a new form of vaccine passport is being considered.

The idea behind this passport is to serve as proof that people have been vaccinated and will allow them to move freely both locally and globally. It will allow a person with the COVID-19 vaccine passport access to restaurants, theaters, and international travel.

EU leaders have announced the creation of a vaccination passport scheme in Europe, which would ease the travel restrictions and open other parts of society as well, from bars to theatres. The COVID-19 vaccine passport should detail the health status of an individual, proof of vaccination, and is envisaged to be in a digital form, likely accessible on smartphones.

Many European countries are welcoming the idea of COVID-19 passports, which could boost tourism and benefit the overall economy. Iceland, being the first European country issuing COVID-19 passports to its vaccinated citizens, is also planning to welcome other’s country’s vaccination certificates.

Along with Iceland, many other European countries are optimistic in regard to easing the restrictions to vaccinated individuals, especially those who are tourism-dependent, like Spain and Greece.

In accordance with Boris Johnson’s roadmap for exiting lockdown, Spain will be utilizing vaccine passports for UK travelers by May 19. Greece, being the most popular summer holiday destination for UK citizens, is also very optimistic for Summer 2021.

Current Greek Minister of Tourism, Harry Theoharis, said: “We are ready, we are ready to share the experience of liberation from the unpleasant memories of the pandemic with each and every one of our guests.” That means UK citizens wanting to travel for holiday purposes will be required to have had a vaccine and a recent negative coronavirus test or have coronavirus antibodies.

However, many have raised their concerns on possible discrimination that might be created by not giving the same treatment to those who are not vaccinated. 200.000 UK citizens have signed the petition against the vaccination passport, which means it will be considered for a debate by MPs. UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham stated, “They touch on human rights, they touch on whether or not we’re going to create a two-tier society based on whether you have a jab in the arm.”

Such claims are also supported by many others. Dr. Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy at the LSE, said, “From an ethical point of view, vaccine passports are completely unacceptable. You’re going to create a two-tier system, and history shows that when you create division within society, it leads to civil unrest. It’s vaccine apartheid.”

The International Air Transport Association or IATA is launching the IATA Travel Pass or a contactless passport app, letting travelers share their vaccination status and COVID-19 test results. While it is still unclear how it will work, it will serve as a health pass that travelers need to present to gain access to airports or public places.

It is up to respective airlines to decide their requirements in mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. Nevertheless, people should expect that proof of their vaccination status will be needed should they travel internationally.

The travel industry will benefit from these vaccine passports as airlines and cruise lines demand proof of vaccination or recovery for international flights. Besides traveling, it can also reopen opportunities for employers, universities, employers, theaters, concert venues, and many more, knowing people are safe as they are vaccinated.

The concept of COVID-19 vaccine passports is not new as various countries require immunization certificates for diseases like polio and yellow fever to prevent global spread. It makes sense to have a secure and accessible record of immunization as the world continuously faces new diseases and viruses.

Aside from COVID-19 tests and other safety measures, once a vaccine passport is widely available, it is safe to assume that airports would be using them as another requirement before allowing people to board their flights.

Currently, many countries require a fit-to-fly certificate to show that you, as a traveler, do not have the virus. Get yours now by contacting Harley Medic International. They also offer Work Place Testing. You can call them at 0330 390 3666 or email them at info@harleymedic.co.uk

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