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A Covid passport, a two-tier society

Opinion Piece

A Covid passport is coming to a family member, neighbour or a local business near you.

Once it arrives here in New Zealand, this digital proof of your vaccination status or negative test result could loosen the shackles of international travel and border restrictions.

Countries like Israel, Singapore and some EU nations have developed versions of a Covid passport varying in function and use. Some require it for travel purposes only, while others have mandated use for indoor venues, businesses, public buildings and places of worship. It's only a matter of time before this becomes New Zealand's new norm. Use of the digital app could possibly extend beyond simply international travel, to domestic businesses, leisure activities and venues, and even public spaces and institutions.

The novelty of a digital vaccine passport has seen countries' employ a trial and error approach towards this new technology. This ad-hoc game plan has raised questions around data privacy and security, freedoms, and the nature of jurisdictions governing a vaccine passport's function and use.

As Covid vaccination has progressively rolled out worldwide, health inequities between population groups have become apparent, including in our own backyard.

Without clarity around the use of a vaccine passport, there is potential for entrenching existing inequalities in the longer term, should health data be used for other non-intended purposes. It is easy to see us creating a two-tiered society between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, raising concerns around the long-term impacts of vaccine passports. There may be a surge in using private data to govern access to spaces vital for our participation in society, spaces like supermarkets, petrol stations and pharmacies.

A stealth approach isn't always the best tactic for introducing public mandates, nor is it a wise strategy for integrating this new technology into our everyday lives.

With most consumer products, safety testing is a necessary and mandatory process for market readiness. It allows for hazards and risks to be identified, and the development of compliance and safety measures. There are international and domestic standards involved that provide safety frameworks and accountability mechanisms.

Similarly, these processes and shared external standards apply to regular passports, yet vaccine passports have bypassed these safety precautions. In the absence of safety measures, or accepted external controls, it is perhaps best for vaccine passports to be a temporary measure, with restrictions that balance civic duties and freedoms. For any long-term plans, it becomes imperative to be clear about the risks involved with their use, be it at home or abroad.

There are pieces to the vaccine passport puzzle that require careful consideration and public consultation. All sides of the story need to be told, to be heard, and we must avoid the unintended consequence of inadvertently creating a two-tier, have and have-not society.

The Government needs to trust us to make informed decisions as much as they call for us to trust in them. We must have a more nuanced conversation about vaccine passports, rather than simply to mandate or not.

Alapasita Teu

  1. Patrick Cooper says:

    Vaccine passports absolutely must not be introduced, even in a limited form. Before we know it, a social credit system on the Chinese model will have been introduced. Individuals are blacklisted based on their loyalty to the government so that, for example, travel outside their immediate neighbourhood becomes impossible. The credit system is closely related to the mass surveillance carried out by China’s totalitarian government which incorporates facial recognition and big data analysis. Once a digital currency has been introduced during the Great Reset, your access to funds via your passport can be cut off at the touch of a button. Say NO to vaccine passports in any form! It’s the tip of the totalitarian iceberg.

  2. Konrad says:

    NO VACCINE PASSPORT

  3. Dave says:

    I am vaccinated, however, I do not want to see a passport put in place. I was pleased to read that the UK has given up on the idea. I think more and more of us are over Covid and all that comes with it, including the constant ads, the non-stop chatter. I don’t see people using a passport, and I don’t see many businesses trying to force people into using it. They will only be too pleased to have someone through their door. We don’t need or want it.

  4. Lara says:

    Agreed, no vaccine passport within our borders.
    However, many countries will likely require proof of a Covid vaccination if we want to travel there. Rarotonga has already said as much.
    When I have traveled to risky places overseas, shots have been required to protect me from rabies and malaria. I would have been a fool to travel there without such protection. From memory, those shots were mandatory for travel insurance.
    Everyone eligible in NZ has the chance to be vaccinated now. If a person chooses not to, that is on them and hopefully they understand the science of the virus in order to protect the health and well-being of people who have to deal with them. They had better not bellyache though if they find they get Covid or lose some of their freedoms, such as the opportunity to travel overseas.