New Vaccine Passports Allow Travel to Europe this Summer but Only for Those Who are Lucky to Get the Shots

Summer in Europe will be here before we know it. While this part of the world is known for attracting millions of travelers every year, last year was quite quiet in all of Europe. The locals are hoping this summer will be different with the roll out of vaccine passports. The borders may still be closed in most of Europe, but the start of the Digital Green Certification is well underway. This certification is a vaccine passport that will allow people who have received their full vaccine dose, or doses, to travel to any country in Europe.

This is good news for older people, who are the ones who are qualified for the vaccine in many areas of the world. Unfortunately, younger people around the world are still waiting for their chance to get the vaccine. Thankfully, a negative test will also be acceptable for travel to Europe.

The Digital Green Certification is not a sealed deal yet, so people must be patient until the EU votes on it at the end of March. While this vaccine passport appears to be the solution, there is fear that the different vaccine rollouts in every country will allow some people to take advantage as others are stuck at home.

The new vaccine passport could also be required to enter bars, restaurants, and other venues in many countries. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but could be in the long term, as many locals wouldn’t be able to go if they are not vaccinated. And for those people who haven’t received the vaccine yet, they will have to decide if being constantly tested is worth the hassle of traveling or dining out.

Unfairness of the Vaccine Passport

The unfairness of this policy is going to invoke anger in many people around the world. As of now, specific cruise lines are planning to set sail this summer. The only caveat is every passenger must be completely vaccinated in order to board the ship. This will leave millions of people back on shore, simply because it is not their turn for the vaccination.

According to Kaye McIntosh, a former editor for Health Which? and WI Life, “Only the over 50s will be vaccinated by this summer, so there may well be protests from younger people. It adds to the sense of generational unfairness created by austerity, house prices, and student loans. I wouldn’t blame Gen Z for being angry.”

Brian Young, who is the managing director at G Adventures, believes this vaccine passport will revive tourism in Europe and the rest of the world. Yet even he admits many people will miss out on travel this year.

Preventing Another Wave

Young also says, “The roll out of cheaper testing options is also essential if the cost is to sit with the consumer. The current cost of PCR tests will deter some travelers, especially if they are required to take multiple tests when traveling.”

When the Digital Green Certification is approved, it will be considered valid within all EU member states. Other places that will be covered include Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Creating a false vaccine passport will be nearly impossible, because it will have a QR code complete with digital signature.

Since many countries are entering their third wave with this virus, new lockdowns are being ordered. Those new lockdowns may prevent the new vaccine passport from being valid in those areas for a short period of time.

Vaccine supplies and even the suspicions over the AstraZeneca vaccine are keeping vaccination rates lower in many countries in Europe. This is concerning to many, because even if the vaccine passport is available, not as many people would be able to take advantage of it.

Measure of Transparency

All twenty-seven member states of the EU must approve the new vaccine passport. If it does pass, it will be introduced in June. Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health and food safety, stated, “We are proposing a common EU approach that will lead us on the way to our goal of re-opening the EU in a safe, sustainable, and predictable way. The situation with the virus in Europe is still very challenging and confidence in decisions taken are crucial. It is only through a joint approach that we can return safely to full free movement in the EU, based on transparent measures and full mutual confidence.”

The World Health Organization is also releasing their own digital certificate, but are insisting it is not a license to travel. WHO Europe Director, Hans Kluge, stated, “We do not encourage at this stage that getting a vaccination is the determining whether you can travel internationally or not. It should not be a requirement. There is a global shortage of vaccines. So, this would increase the inequities, and if there’s one thing that we learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that the vulnerable people got hit disproportionally.”

Who Wins and Who Loses??

There is already a green pass over in Israel, where there is already a high vaccination rate. They are utilizing that pass to keep their venues, bars, and restaurants open safely. Certain airlines are also adding requirements for letting passengers’ fly. Every passenger must ensure they are virus free. While some airlines are using their own certification, others are signing up for the digital pass that is being created by the IATA, or International Air Transport Association.

No matter what happens, there will be winners and losers in this equation until everyone is eligible for the vaccine. Until that time, the lucky people who have been vaccinated can at least go out and travel the world, while the others simply stay at home and wait for their chance to do the same. And while those unvaccinated people can get a test to travel, not many will want to spend the extra money to be tested constantly.