Currently, vaccine passports are being considered as one of the solutions to help resume international flights, open up tourism and trade, and revive economies around the world in general and Vietnam in particular so that countries can can quickly and safely open the border, gradually restore the tourism, aviation, trade and investment industries.
In Vietnam, at the request of the Ministry of Health, from April 8, vaccination facilities will start digitally signing. Then, from April 15, the Ministry of Health will conduct centralized signing to issue “vaccine passports” to people. As of February 16, 2022, 14 countries and territories have recognized Vietnam’s vaccine passports, including: Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Belarus, Cambodia, the Philippines, Palestine, Maldives, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Turkey.
- What is a vaccine passport?
A vaccine passport is actually a document certifying that a person has had enough vaccines according to the manufacturer’s professional recommendations or according to the state management agency, usually 2 doses or for those who have been infected with COVID but has recovered or has a negative confirmation for SARs Covi-2 virus.
Vaccine passports are being considered as one of the solutions to help resume international flights, open up tourism and trade, and revive economies around the world in general and Vietnam in particular so that countries can can quickly and safely open the border, gradually restore the tourism, aviation, trade and investment industries.
- What are the advantages of a vaccine passport?
Firstly, when applying a vaccine passport and having a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 for people entering Vietnam, the isolation time will be reduced to a minimum. When the isolation time is reduced, it will help reduce difficulties in the process of moving, so that the work of enterprises will be done more easily.
Second, the vaccine passport helps create a health app that allows individuals to securely and privately store their health records on their phones. Extracting data via QR code when it is necessary to provide information to competent authorities is also a superior measure to help quickly authenticate information as well as ensure information security. At the same time, if a common recognition system is established between countries, the movement and conduct of passenger travel between countries will become extremely convenient.
Third, a vaccine passport could also be the key to returning society to normalcy as it can be issued to people who have been vaccinated and allow them to participate in community activities and so countries can lift restrictions/bans on social distancing, making places or community activities safer.
In Vietnam, many industries and services need to be connected to the world to regain development momentum, safe travel is not only the need of the people but also the lifeblood of the national economy. In addition, the vaccination rate in our country has rapidly increased, so it is necessary to have reasonable policies so that vaccinated people can travel, work or participate in social activities safely.
- Why are there many views against the vaccine passport policy?
Vaccine passports, despite receiving much sympathy and support, are still a controversial issue in many countries and organizations around the world. Many countries believe that relaxing travel for vaccinated people will lead to discrimination against the unvaccinated, especially against citizens in some less developed countries. Moreover, the issue of forging vaccine passports or concerns about the risk of personal information leakage also makes many countries afraid to apply. At the same time, many views believe that applying this vaccine passport policy will also go against the regulations on people’s right to choose whether or not to vaccinate.
Recently, the European Commission (EC) is expected to publish a legal proposal on the establishment of a system of “electronic vaccine passports” between countries in the bloc in March 2021. The passport will allow people to move within or outside the EU for work and tourism. The EC will seek to create a technical mechanism for certifying travel documents in digital form, based on equivalent information in all 27 member countries and subject to EU data protection standards. However, this issue is still controversial among the members of the European Union (EU). Tourism-dependent countries like Greece and aviation lobby groups want the certificate to be treated as a vaccine passport, allowing vaccinated people to avoid testing or quarantine. However, many EU member states make the point that, if the idea is to create a digital document, the EU will be required to establish a common platform valid in all countries to verify the validity of the above documents, as well as protect sensitive health information. The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus strain complicates the story because vaccination does not mean complete immunity to the disease.
In addition, some countries, led by France and Germany, are not interested in the deployment of vaccine passports because of concerns that, loosening travel for those who have been vaccinated will lead to “discrimination” against those who have not been vaccinated. The French government said that Europe is currently in the early stages of a vaccination campaign and it is not clear the effectiveness of current vaccinations in fighting the epidemic, so it is too early to discuss vaccine passports at this time. In Germany, the “vaccine passport” is also facing opposition, because now the country’s priority is to tighten regulations to prevent the spread of virus strains coming from the UK.
From the perspective of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Catherine Smallwood, WHO’s senior specialist for emergencies in Europe, affirmed that WHO does not recommend immunity passports (certificate of vaccination). vaccine) and does not recommend testing as a means of preventing cross-border transmission.
Currently, in order to implement the direction of the Government leaders in Official Dispatch 1606/VPCP-QHQT dated March 15, 2022 on the resumption of immigration services of Vietnam. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued Official Dispatch 967/ BNG-LS on March 17, 2022. This official dispatch has provided a list of Vietnamese countries that recognize vaccine passports, as well as specific instructions on conditions and sample passports for vaccines. Also according to this Official Dispatch, the vaccine passport will be applied on the principle of reciprocity between Vietnam for the 16 countries mentioned above. Holders of vaccine passports from these countries entering Vietnam and from Vietnam to these countries are entitled to the same medical measures as those who have been vaccinated in their home country.