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UBC medical ethicist says vaccine passports could be discriminatory

Last Updated Mar 16, 2021 at 9:07 pm PDT

New screening measures at place at Vancouver International Airport as seen on Friday February 19th, 2021. (Image Credit: CityNews)

UBC medical ethicist says there is a lot of potential for discrimination with requiring proof of vaccination

She says there are questions around who would be controlling vaccine passports and where they might be used

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Tourism advocates are calling on the implementation of vaccine passports or proof of vaccination to reopen travel, but one medical ethicist has concerns.

UBC Medical ethicist Judy Illes says while the COVID vaccine is important, she adds there is a lot of potential for discrimination with requiring proof of vaccination.

“There may be individuals with certain kinds of neurologic conditions for whom the vaccination is not indicated at this time, or they wish to wait to ensure that it is safe and would be safe for them neurologic condition,” she explains. “We think about other kinds of vulnerable people, some with mental health and neuropsychiatric disorders who may not be able to provide fully informed consent. We think about people who are unable to access the vaccinations, from rural and remote communities, and we don’t want people to be discriminated again against for those reasons.”

Illes adds it’s important to reopen the economy and get back to a sense of normal “But we have to balance this against certain potential risks.”

So she says the focus right now should be on strong public health campaigns encouraging people to get the shot, not forcing them.

“Who’s going to control or verify that vaccination certificates are actually authentic? Or is that kind of health information going to be used in some sort of database?

“So a lot of process questions here that must be taken into consideration, alongside the ethical considerations about discrimination and stigma, human rights and dignity, and really protecting the most number of people for the best outcomes.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he couldn’t take a definitive stance on implementing vaccination certificates since there are a number of factors to consider.