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Vice advocates vaccine passports, ignoring concerns

A recent Vice World News story [1] advocating vaccine passports ignores or downplays several compelling arguments against them. It does so to the detriment of its young, easily influenced readers who may not have access to all the facts.

The article goes so far as to include the quote, “a vaccine passport could actually be the thing to push [the vaccine-hesitant] over the edge, if all of a sudden those people can’t go out for dinner or travel.” Vice thus endorses the government wielding the passport as a cudgel to bully citizens into submitting to what’s effectively a vaccine mandate.

“Vaccine passports are an effective way to encourage some people to get vaccinated because they offer pre-pandemic freedoms—a night out with friends, for instance—while minimizing the risk of catching the virus for both vaccinated and unvaccinated folks,” the article says. “At the same time, people continue to have the right to refuse inoculation, but if they exercise it, they lose the freedom to go out and put others in danger. In short, vaccine passports act as both carrot and stick.”

An individual’s privacy and right not to be vaccinated or carry a passport fall by the wayside in the article. Religious reasons or fear that the vaccines were not rigorously tested are ignored. And Vice cites a source who says privacy worries have been “somewhat overblown.”

There’s evidence to the contrary. Last month, vaccine passport applicants in Northern Ireland received other users’ personal information in a data breach [2].

Digital vaccine passports [3] may have sensitive medical records in a centralized database. This database could be prone to corporate abuse, government surveillance, or data breaches. CVS and Walgreens have to store vaccine recipients’ data.  Earlier this year, CVS Health accidentally leaked more than one billion records.

Without an all-encompassing federal privacy law, disclosing one’s vaccination status to a commercial entity can become riskier. If commercial vaccine passports are required to go to restaurants, sports venues and other hotspots of public life, anyone wishing to go to such places must risk their privacy by providing personal data.

Even Vice’s source admits that a vaccine passport could be required for entry to more essential establishments like a pharmacy or grocery store.

For Vice’s same source, the collective “greater good” supersedes individual rights. Another source says the government “will inspire trust” through “clear public health communication.”

The federal government probably [4] couldn’t legally mandate a vaccine passport. The Supreme Court would probably rule against vaccine passports because they’re not “the least restrictive means to protecting the community against the virus,” Bloomberg said [5]

Or, “[i]f the court were to turn back the clock on religious exemptions, it could easily conclude that vaccine passports — with their powerful pressure to vaccinate — are not the least restrictive means necessary to protect public health.”

Good people across the globe have raised concerns about a vaccine mandate.  They should not be ignored or discounted.