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Travel documents like these have always been used and are nothing new. 

It’s no surprise that it’s been a long, sometimes hopeless, year battling COVID-19. With the ongoing pandemic and more Americans opting to be vaccinated, the use of vaccination passports could be a great way to monitor, manage and put an end to the virus. 

While those not vaccinated shouldn’t be out in public without masks and social distancing measures, those willing to be fully vaccinated could see a shift in what they’ve come to consider the new normal. While an ideal world would allow citizens to trust those around them to have been socially distancing, a vaccine passport could take the guesswork out of who’s safe to be around and who may be a risk. 

Taking a vacation abroad at this time is questionable at best, but vaccine passports could at least guarantee every person on the airplane has tested negative and is fully vaccinated. That sounds like a much more enjoyable experience, especially with the possibility of not having to quarantine before or after reaching your destination. 

Unlike the United States, there are countries that already require people to prove they’ve been vaccinated if they want to travel. This isn’t only a responsible measure to keep travelers safe, but it keeps locals safe from others bringing in the virus from abroad. For those reasons alone, foreign countries have every right to reject tourists who haven’t been vaccinated. 

While the vaccine roll-out is picking up steam in the United States, herd immunity hasn’t been achieved and, frankly, without the use of vaccine passports, it may not be achieved for some time. For example, 19.9% of the population has been fully vaccinated in the U.S., but there are 23 states who’ve dropped their statewide mask mandates. While this may look like progress to some, not enough Americans have been vaccinated for this to have a positive outcome.

While some may consider the possibility of vaccine passports to be inconvenient, they’re no more of a hassle than using a credit card or showing a driver’s license. Vaccine passports can be added to already existing protocols—for example, showing a ticket or ID to enter a concert venue. 

If this is seen as some sort of infringement on human rights, people have been required to show documentation for decades in regard to public health and safety. Public and private schools require their staff and students to show proof of immunizations prior to enrollment. These aren’t only mandates made by the schools, but mandates made by each individual state. These types of “passes” are what have been keeping children, teachers and staff safe for decades. 

Vaccine passports will prioritize the overall health of the public rather than the inconvenience some people may feel toward being vaccinated or providing proof that they are. While vaccine passports shouldn’t outlive the virus itself, they should be mandated until the spread has significantly decreased to the point of herd immunity. 

Mastan Rashid is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact Mastan at rashi2mx@dukes.jmu.edu.