April 2, 2021 — As more people around the world complete their COVID-19 vaccinations, ethical questions arise. “If the passport system makes it too easy to request and provide proof of vaccination, these requests are likely to be overused as people are asked to identify themselves at every turn,” the ACLU writes. Israel already issues “green passports.” “Australia, Denmark and Sweden have agreed to introduce passports, and the U.S., British government and European Union are considering their options,” the authors write. But Nancy Jecker, PhD, professor of bioethics and humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, says that while vaccines reduce risk, little is known about the duration of immunity. Even if vaccines were more readily available, they would remain low among minorities and low-income people, which could lead to discrimination. People of color are already disproportionately affected by COVID-19, dying from it more often, and many are reluctant to get vaccinated, Jacker notes. A recent article in JAMA reports that high-income countries have put off more than half the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine worldwide, despite the fact that they make up only 14% of the world’s population. In addition, the passport system would essentially penalize people who have religious or philosophical objections to vaccination. “Until we have a fair and equitable system for distributing vaccines, vaccine passports will only increase inequality,” “he” said. The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement Wednesday listing privacy concerns about a possible vaccine passport. Hall and Studdert suggest that the U.S. government set standards for reliable vaccine documentation. According to Jacker, health disparities are at the heart of ethical concerns about the passports. “While the government is not at the helm, it will have to help manage it,” said Hall and Studdert, who added that this would be especially important when private policy affects employment. Such rules will likely soon be offered by public-private partnerships, starting with the tourism industry and extending to the entertainment and other sectors.