Weekly Poll – Vaccine Passports (Week Beginning 2 August 2021)
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 2 August 2021, we asked a question about vaccine passports. A vaccine passport, also known as a COVID-19 Status Certificate, is a mobile app or similar system that can prove the holder has been vaccinated against COVID-19 when travelling abroad and domestically at events and venues.
Question 1. Do you think vaccine passports should be introduced in domestic settings, such as nightclubs, sporting and business events, music venues and festivals?
- YES – 54% (84 respondents)
- NO – 46% (74 respondents)
We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
Respondents who believed that a vaccine passport should be introduced in domestic settings highlighted that the scheme has the potential to provide extra confidence for people to attend venues with enclosed spaces where people congregate, such as live music and sporting events. In England, it was recently announced that full vaccination would be the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Under these new measures, people would show proof of vaccination by using the ‘NHS Covid Pass app’.
“If every person can show they have had a dose of the vaccine I’m sure that would allay fears. If the person next to me at a music venue has not had a vaccine, I’m sure this would be a cause for concern. I’ve had both mine and would feel happier showing and app or a card, just the same as my hidden disability.”
“People who are at high risk from COVID are more cautious about now going out into society with places getting busier, physical distancing being done away with, so a passport would give a bit of reassurance that people in that particular environment were double jagged.”
“I think that venues that have a passport system would send a positive signal to prospective patrons. If I were to be going to any venue where the health of people inside were in doubt I wouldn’t think of entering, however if they had a passport system in place, I would definitely be more inclined to enter.”
“Provided there is a way to limit the information being shared with the venue while still remaining useful to confirm vaccine status, this should be rolled out. It would make me feel much safer to know everyone was vaccinated.”
Encourage People to get Vaccinated
Some respondents believed that a vaccine passport scheme may encourage more people to get vaccinated. However, there must also be recognition of people who are unable to be vaccinated for reasons such as a disability or a religious belief.
“The vaccine passport would encourage the population of unvaccinated people who are able to be vaccinated to go ahead with it. The vaccine passport would also make me feel safer in large groups of people.”
“It would make me feel much safer and hopefully encourage those that don’t want to get vaccinations to do so.”
“It will encourage younger people to have the vaccine and hopefully make it less likely with the removal of physical distancing that cases will increase again.”
“This measure may encourage the unbelievers to take the vaccine in order to enter the premises which are likely to be crowded and would assist with the prospect of sharing reduced space in future for people like myself who have auto immune conditions. Without this reassurance my human right to leave my house is further compromised.”
Discrimination and Breach Human Rights
For respondents who are against vaccine passports, a number of factors were raised which highlight the disproportionate impact the scheme will have on disabled people who are unable to be vaccinated. The scheme will create a two-tier society which will exclude people who are unable to be vaccinated from participating in certain activities. Respondents believed that for disabled people this will exacerbate existing inequalities, lead to discrimination and infringe human rights.
“I know of several people (my daughter and her fiancé included) who would take the vaccination but have either been advised by their doctor against it, or who have experienced negative reactions to any type of vaccination in the past and are worried about the effect the vaccine may have on their health in the longer term. Vaccine passports will discriminate against those who have a valid reason for not being vaccinated.”
“Unfortunately, I struggle with a number of severe anxiety disorders including very health related panic disorder and so I feel unable to get the vaccine and as such would be very disappointed if a divide was created due to the vaccine.”
“There are many people who are unable to have the vaccine due to medical conditions. It is up to individuals to make their own informed decision to have or refuse the vaccine. A two-tier system will be the result of domestic vaccine passports.”
“Some people due to legitimate reasons (allergic reactions, medical issues) cannot get the vaccine. When our world feels so off limits already, this has the potential to limited disabled access even further.”
“There is an increasingly toxic and ableist two-tier society has already been developing over the last 18 months, seen in the way persons with face covering exemption are routinely abused and discriminated against. Medical status is personal and private.”
“I think it is wrong and entirely against human rights to force or bully people into getting a vaccine or penalise them if they don’t.”
“I believe it to be a grave infringement of people’s freedoms and liberties, especially freedom of movement.”
A portion of respondents suggested that people who are unable to be vaccinated must be exempt from the scheme. This may be achieved by integrating the exemption criteria in the design of the app or developing an alternative format for people who do not have access to a digital device.
“Passports should have the ability to show that someone can’t get the vaccination for medical reasons so that they are not excluded or discriminated against.”
“I agree in principle with the scheme, but it should allow exemptions to prevent a two-tier system.”
“There must be a clause for people who are medically unable to be vaccinated.”
“If people have proof of vaccination, it will improve confidence in the venues being visited. They can also provide proof of exemption on the app.”
Rapid Lateral Flow Testing
In addition, rapid lateral flow testing was suggested by some respondents as a way to mitigate the risk of discrimination. However, access to testing can be variable and the need to test repeatedly could be a burdensome requirement.
“I’d rather see lateral flow test use as though not perfect it’s open to all and shows carriers which vaccines don’t prevent.”
“Only testing is a viable solution at the moment.”
“For those with a medical reason for not being able to be vaccinated, I think a regime of testing at an appropriated interval would validate their passport for a given period. The same could be implemented for those still waiting to be invited for a vaccine.”
A number of respondents raised concerns about the format of a digital passport, which may leave some disabled people excluded from the scheme if they are unable to use or afford a smartphone. Therefore, if the scheme is introduced, it must incorporate the principles of inclusive communication and ensure that a paper-based equivalent is developed alongside a smartphone app.
“Providing it is not just an app as many of us do not have smartphones and I certainly will not be spending money on one.”
“I don’t have a smartphone – I can’t afford one and the associated data costs. Having to use an app would mean I’d have to spend what little money I have spare on this rather than socialising. I know a number of disabled people who have simple non-smart phones as they find smartphones too difficult to use. Will these people be prevented from going on holiday or events just because they can’t use the latest technology? Once again those at the margins of society who cannot either afford or use modern technology for whatever reason are being disregarded and ignored when coming up with solutions.”
“A digital one is of no use to me. I can’t see a phone screen properly, hence I don’t have a smart one. I am not paying for something I cannot use. So, I would need a paper vaccine passport, with perhaps some kind of digital code that would verify it as a real one in case of scams.”
“Why does everybody assume that old age pensioners have mobile phones and apps?”
“I would welcome the use of vaccine passports if they were available in printed format. Requiring them to be on smartphones is useless to me because I don’t have a smartphone due to their being no signal in my area.”
“I have had the vaccine, but I have a hand disability that does not allow me to use a mobile phone therefore would find it impossible to use a passport app and I am sure there will be other disabilities just as limiting as mine and some far more limiting. More consideration should be given before finalising the passport app which is not a one fits all solution.”
“If a paper format of the vaccine passport is distributed then it needs to be made of a material that is durable.”
“I am only in favour if the app is accessible for people who are blind.”
A narrow majority of respondents (54%) believed vaccine passports should be introduced in domestic settings across Scotland. The prominent reason for people being in favour of the scheme is to provide extra levels of confidence when attending events and venues where large groups of people are likely to congregate in enclosed spaces. Some respondents believed that the scheme could increase the uptake of vaccines, however, there must also be recognition of people who are unable to be vaccinated due to their disability. For people in this category, there is a genuine risk that vaccine passports will create a two-tier society which will lead to discrimination. As a solution, respondents suggested that people who are unable to be vaccinated must be exempt from the scheme or take part in rapid lateral flow testing. If such a scheme is introduced, it must also consider the principles of inclusive communication and ensure that a paper-based equivalent is available for people who are digitally excluded and unable to access a smartphone app.