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Coronavirus 'vaccine passports' offer 'freedom,' 'mobility,' access to 'certain jobs' — and are inevitable, NYU medical ethics prof tells CNN

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May I see your papers?

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Coronavirus "vaccine passports" are coming to America, a New York University medical ethics professor told CNN Sunday.

But not to worry: Arthur Caplan told Fareed Zakaria that bearers of such documents will "gain freedom," "gain mobility," and will have access to "certain jobs."

May I see your papers?

As if to prime the pump, Zakaria's segment began with the notorious "May I see your papers?" scene from "Casablanca":

Image source: YouTube screenshot

The host even narrated over the clip, saying the "demand to produce personal documents can be uncomfortable, but post-pandemic it's something we'll all likely have to get more and more comfortable with. We could be asked to show proof we've had the shots in order to get on an airplane, go to a concert, or go back to work."

With that, Zakaria asked Caplan why vaccine passports are "the future and we should be comfortable with it?"

What did Caplan have to say?

The professor replied that he's "sure that the future holds vaccine passports for us, partly to protect against the spread of COVID and it rebounding."

As for concerns about privacy of health data, Caplan said that "with a COVID certification, you're going to gain freedom, you're going to gain mobility, and I'm going to suggest that you're probably going to be able to get certain jobs," especially within close-quartered environments such as cruise ships.

He added that often the release of health information "threatens to harm you; in this case being vaccinated threatens to benefit you. It goes in the other direction."

After Zakaria brought up the "inevitable inequality" with respect to vaccine access and the reluctance of some people and communities to get vaccinated, Caplan had the following to say:

Vaccine passports or even vaccine requirements do depend on access. It's hard to impose anything unless you are pretty sure that somebody can get a vaccine. So I think it'll be a little while before we see this, let's say within the U.S. But there [are] going to be communities and areas of the country where it starts to make sense due to high availability of the vaccine to say, "You wanna come back to work in person? Gotta show me a vaccine certificate. You wanna go in a bar, a restaurant? Gotta show me a vaccine certificate." I think there will be some inequality in the U.S., but hopefully it will wash out quickly as the supplies increase very rapidly, and I think they're going to. It also gives you an incentive to overcome vaccine hesitancy. ... if you promise them more mobility, more ability to get a job, more ability to get travel, that's a very powerful incentive to actually achieve fuller vaccination.

Here's the interview:

On GPS: Are vaccine passports inevitable? | CNN International youtu.be

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