On Proving You’re Vaccinated
Terry H. Schwadron
Dec. 29, 2020
Finally, after waiting around for months, some health outlet is going to call your age group or occupation and you, too, will be able to board the vaccine plane, get your 10-second injection and begin planning on how best to return to jobs, rehearsals, dating, whatever passes as more normal activity.
The only issue is that getting the vaccine is only the first step — and even within that question, we’re still only at the emergency approval stage.
The bigger issue may be end up being able to prove that we’ve gotten a vaccination.
This is an issue that could easily lead to protests over mandates, over being forced to take vaccines still in development, of discrimination.
Government at all levels has been focusing all of its waking coronavirus hours on getting hospital beds, respirators, antiviral drugs, expanded testing and now vaccines delivered for mass inoculations.
What officials have yet to focus on is how individuals will be able to prove that they got one or more of the approved vaccines to employers, unions, fellow performers, restaurant staff or the airlines.
You would have thought that this was among the normal questions that an Operation Warp Speed might consider, as in, can I return to work if I have taken the vaccine, or can I as employed require that my workers have taken a vaccine.
With upwards of 40 percent of the country saying that they will resist taking any vaccine, the questions become a lot dicer, medically, legally and culturally.
Is that church that went to court to resist shutdowns over too many congregants gathering in one place or that bar where the owners have protested masks going to now check for vaccine inoculation? Is proof in Mississippi going to be the same as in New York? In short, are we making participation in society dependent on provable immunity status?
The easy thing here would be for governments to have a uniform way to stamp drivers licenses or some such, but in our individualistic world, there’s not a chance that will happen.
Too Many Variations
All of which leads us to state processes that will vary, or individual workplaces or arenas with different requirements or airlines with separate protocols. For that matter, if we have required vaccines to work or fly, will it just be for U.S. FDA-approved vaccines or will the Russian or Chinese version do? A total of 61 COVID-19 vaccines are in clinical trials around the world, according to the New York Times’ vaccine tracker.
The answers here will govern a national or world economy, of course. They will dictate immigration policy and allow for discrimination of the worst sorts in some instances.
And, they will open the doors to fraud, since all that stands between me and my bandmates meeting up again in a restaurant that wants jazz may be a piece of paper, easily duplicated, faked or sold on the internet. A recent flight from Russia to China was canceled after more than 190 of the passengers attempted to board with “completely identical” serology tests.
Axios is reporting that privately operated digital certificates are already being developed, and tech companies are all in about creating apps. An sports team scheduler told a television interviewer recently he is depending on the idea that anyone going to a football game need only flash a green screen on a phone to be able to enter. All U.S. law (HIPAA) seems to say is that anyone getting a vaccine should be able to obtain individual proof of that. And the law seems to support employers who might make vaccines a requirement.
Obviously in the current environment, there are plenty of voices who see this mass identification as intrusive and already are threatening to challenge such requirements.
Travel, School and Mandates
Some airlines and airports are starting to roll out CommonPass, a global platform created by the World Economic Forum and Swiss-based non-profit The Commons Project. It allows individuals to digitally document COVID status through tests and vaccinations while protecting data privacy. Basically, it is a system that checks the source of medical information with validating codes flashing a color or symbol to show status.
Still, it is unlikely to replace required testing before flights,
From all that we hear, at least 75% of the country probably needs to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, and widespread skepticism about the vaccine means there’s a chance we won’t get there. So, expect that employers, theaters, arenas, concerts and the like will require something akin to proof of vaccine.
Just what can be legally required will be a societal hassle of course. Many of the schools or other institutions that could require proof of vaccination simply may not want to. Businesses may have to be incented to set up restrictions for customers. Schools are among the biggest source of vaccine mandates — and also for debates over such mandates. So far, the vaccines emerging have not been authorized for use in those under age 18.
Given recent court cases, we should expect that some employers will seek exemption based on religious beliefs, if on no other grounds than being treated more stringently than bars.
Bottom line: There’s a whole lot of confusion just around the corner. We’ve already inoculated a million people without asking much about proof of vaccine.
Anytime now sounds like a good time to get the rules ironed out.