Following the news that Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that plans for vaccine passports in England have been scrapped;
Emily Martyn, MPH, Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:
“At first glance, the vaccine passport may seem like a good idea. Nightclubs and similar venues are considered ‘high risk’. By only allowing people who have both vaccines to enter heavily crowded areas, it would reduce the risk of transmission and prevent such venues from being closed again in the future. It was hoped that targeting nightclubs would encourage vaccine uptake in the under-40 population, which has seen the lowest vaccine uptake rate.
“However, the scheme may do more harm than good. It may alienate those already hesitant about getting the vaccine – the very population being targeted. Furthermore, autonomy-frustrating policies, such as vaccine passports, might create long-term mistrust in the health system. This could affect the uptake of booster jabs if they are to be rolled out later in the year as planned. The perceived short-term gains in vaccine passports may cause long term frustration when managing COVID-19 in the future.
“The UK Government and policymakers must do more in creating a trusting environment relationship with the vaccine-hesitant groups and respect their right to autonomy if they wish to see increased vaccine update. Proposals from current COVID researchers include more positive public help messages that encourage uptake to protect loved ones. The government and policymakers could also look to how the US has encouraged uptake, including incentives such as lotteries. Ultimately the government needs to understand why these communities are avoiding the vaccine, and work with them to help them overcome their concerns, rather than dictate what to do which results in putting fuel on the fire.”