A new era dawns on South Africa as President Cyril Ramaphosa categorically confirmed, during Sunday’s ‘family’ meeting’ that ‘vaccine passports‘ are under consideration.
What are vaccine passports?
The president provided updates on the latest inoculation trends in South Africa and two concerns were noted:
- Senior citizens aged 60 and above are not enthused about getting vaccinated; and
- females lead the way as the most vaccinated gender group in South Africa
Ramaphosa urged hesitant South Africans to utilise the resources provided by the government to educate themselves on the benefits of taking a COVID-19 vaccine.
What he didn’t outrightly mention, however, was that very soon, little-to-no choice could be left for those who’ve used their democratic right to refuse a jab.
“It is important to bear in mind that this is a new virus that the world has never encountered before. Although nobody can predict how the virus will mutate further, the scientific community has developed innovative ways of tracking the emergence of new variants.
“If many people are not vaccinated and remain vulnerable to infection, the chance of new and more dangerous variants emerging is far greater. That is why vaccines are currently the most potent weapon we have to fight this pandemic,” he said.
Very soon, the only way to gain entry to certain establishments, particularly large crowd gatherings, may be with a vaccine passport.
Those who’ve received the jab will know that after the first dose, patients are handed a temporary card with a unique code.
This new form of identification, the president hinted, could be the entry card to most establishments in the near future.
“We will also be providing further information on an approach to ‘vaccine passports’, which can be used as evidence of vaccination for various purposes and events,” Ramaphosa said.
It seems that at the height of hesitancy that’s scuppering the world’s efforts in achieving herd immunity against COVID-19, the only way to ‘encourage’ people to get vaccinated is by restricting access to certain things.
Already, the Western Cape is toggling with the idea of reserving access to social venues for vaccinated partygoers. The Limpopo provincial government also recently announced that it plans to implement a “no tax, no alcohol” policy in its liquor sector.
Countries currently using vaccine passes
What this means for COVID-19 vaccine naysayers is that, very soon, life without a vax ID could be very hard.
At this juncture, South Africa is only starting to catch up with the developed world with its plans to implement this COVID-19 ‘dompas’.
These countries have, in some capacity, implemented vaccine passports as access tools to social events and other ‘perks’:
- United Kingdom: The vaccine passport is under consideration in the UK and according to BBC, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted at introducing the document as proof of entry at nightclubs and large-scale social gatherings. At this time, Brits only use the ‘passport’ as proof of vaccination when travelling in and out of the country.
- European Union: In the EU, all 27 member-states have incorporated the vaccine passport as a means of providing proof of inoculation. At this time, however, it’s only valid for travelling purposes and not currently in use as a barrier of entry.
- France: Since the start of August, French authorities have made it mandatory for patrons visiting restaurants, bars, planes and trains to provide some proof of vaccination. All citizens, foreign nationals with valid living status in the country, aged from 12 and above are required to prove that they’ve either received the jab or recently tested negative for COVID-19. The introduction of the new access system has received some resistance in the country.
- Israel: The COVID-19 pass is currently in use with citizens aged 12 and above required to present this proof of inoculation to gain entry to cultural and sporting events, gyms, restaurants and dining halls, conferences, tourist attractions and places of worship.
- China: The Asian country uses a QR Code system, much like the traditional passport, to categorise people’s restrictions based on a traffic light system. Chinese nationals and foreigners with official living status with green access can move around without restriction. It’s said that this group is vaccinated. China is the only country utilising this traffic light system at this time.
- United States: Currently, the vaccine passport is not a mandatory federal law. This means that proof of inoculation, in most states, is not a mandatory barrier of entry. However, this could change in the near future after President Joe Biden announced the ‘vaccine mandate’ which, essentially, is a more stern approach to encouraging more than 80 million Americans to take the jab — whether they want to or not.
- Australia: The country currently does not have a vaccine passport policy in place. However, locals are encouraged to carry a copy of their certificate on their phones and devices should a need arise to provide proof of inoculation.