Vaccine passports raise questions about equity

The ACLU’s Jay Stanley talks about some of the cons associated with proof of vaccination

Video Transcript


JAY STANLEY: Our view is that there are narrow circumstances in which it's legitimate to require people to prove that they've been vaccinated. But we don't want to see that overdone. I think that the main focus of our country right now should be getting to herd immunity so that COVID becomes like other dangerous diseases, whether it's polio or measles or what have you, where most of the time we don't worry about it.

We do have school vaccinations. But we don't think about those diseases every time we go into a crowd, and that's where we need to get with COVID. It's true we don't know what twists and turns this pandemic will take. And that's something we're just going to have to see. But I think it's a little premature to think about creating a whole system, a checkpoint society where we have passports and have to show them to do everything in life.

MIKE SIMPSON: Well, that's the criticism. Right? That it separates. It fragments even more. And this should be a personal decision. And you can't ban people from doing all these things that they want to do just because they didn't get the vaccine.

JAY STANLEY: Yeah, I think that there are different criteria that you should look at when you evaluate whether somebody wants to require a vaccination. You look at something like a cruise ship. That's a quasi, private, non-essential facility. I mean, for example, if I want to have a party and require that all my friends be vaccinated, I can certainly do that as a private party.

Now if you're talking about requiring it for essential facilities like subways, buses, potentially even planes, that's when you get into equity issues. I mean, right now, a lot of people haven't had a chance to have a vaccine. And we know that the vaccine rollout has not been equitable. Poor people, people of color are not getting vaccinated at the same rates as sort of wealthy white people. And so there will be a lot of unfairness in requiring a vaccine to access essential facilities right now.