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The ethics of covid-19 vaccine passport as a bordering tool

By Felix Akinboyewa

Most countries have already started planning to implement Covid-19 vaccine passports to allow people to travel, access public venues, return to educational settings and for large gatherings.

I was reading a CNN report of August 20, 2021, stating that the University of Virginia disenrolls 238 students for not complying with university’s vaccine mandate (https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/20/us/uva-disenrolling-students-vaccine/index.html). This raises the question of what is the ethics of mandating covid-19 vaccine?

Vaccine passports are permissible under international health regulations, and they already exist. For example, vaccination against yellow fever is required to travel across some parts of Africa. I needed to get yellow fever vaccine and present the certificate at the airport before I would be allowed to travel from Nigeria to Ghana in January 2019.

Some people believe that vaccine passports are for international public good with many positive benefits for individuals and larger population. However, some other people believe this is bordering which hinders migration and a violation of freedom of movement. In the case of the University of Virginia where 238 students were disenrolled for not complying with university’s vaccine mandate, there are concerns by the parents and general populace that this is the violation of the right to education of the students.

While the advantages of vaccine passports are undeniable, the ethical implications of the implementation as a bordering tool in the digital times are needed to be debated.

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