As more Americans get vaccinated and as COVID-19 cases and deaths decline, it’s hard to believe that there are still people talking about “vaccine passports” as though they are something we might actually need.
“The Biden administration shouldn’t be so squeamish about vaccine verification,” Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and former health commissioner of Baltimore, told The Hill. According to Wen, the Biden administration missed the opportunity to support a standardized vaccine verification system, arguing instead that people might just need more incentive to get the jab.
Various states have tried lotteries and other incentives to get their populations vaccinated, yet getting 70 percent of adults vaccinated has proved to be difficult.
“The pace of new vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped to about 500,000 people per day — down from a high of 3.5 million per day in April,” reported the Daily Mail earlier this month. “The White House has launched a month-long blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy and a lack of urgency to get shots, particularly in the South and Midwest, but it is increasingly resigned to missing the president’s vaccination target.”
President Biden had originally set a target date of July 4, but after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, vaccine doses administered took a sharp decline. The price to pay for the Biden administration’s big mistake could be vaccine passports.
The Biden administration originally deferred to the private sector when it came to vaccine passports, but health experts “are calling on the Biden administration to do more to encourage and promote the use of vaccine mandates and passports.”
“There are a lot of people in the middle. They’re not eager to get the vaccine, but they’re also not anti-vaxxers. They need an additional push. And that push is still not there, because we have not been requiring proof of vaccination in order to return to normal,” Wen explained.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 40 percent of young adults ages 18-19 would only get vaccinated if it was required for participation in normal activities. But without a mandate, they don’t feel the need or desire to get vaccinated.
So apparently mandating vaccinations is still being pushed. Imagine that. In America. Land of the free.
“The idea of trying to have a kind of vaccine certificate or some way to prove your vaccination status, I think this is something that the government should have anticipated and thought through early on … and made some way to make this easy to verify, instead of those flimsy cards they give you,” says Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
What concerns me is that I just don’t know what the Biden administration will do. Biden really shot himself in the foot by setting a vaccination goal of 70 percent by July 4, a goal we’re apparently not going to hit. Would vaccine passports be his way of “fixing” his mistake? I hope not, but I’m not confident about it. Cases are still down, as are deaths. The Delta variant of COVID-19 isn’t even causing a spike in deaths. That health experts are still talking about vaccine passports when they’re clearly not necessary strikes a really bad chord with me.
I got vaccinated. It was my choice. As far as I’m concerned, we’re all free to make that choice. Younger people who are statistically unlikely to succumb to the disease shouldn’t bother. As much as I was okay with getting the shot (I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine), we don’t know the long-term effects yet. Thus, I will not have my kid vaccinated, and most parents I know feel the same way.
Why are these health experts advocating for mandates when both COVID-19 cases and deaths are at levels we haven’t seen since the early days of the pandemic? Why does the answer always have to be a mandate? This is America for crying out loud.
I miss Trump. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if he were still in office.