Northwest Missourian Opinion

The Missouri Senate recently voted to ban so-called vaccine passports. Vaccine passports are documentation stating someone has been vaccinated for COVID-19. This means that Missouri residents won’t have to show they’ve been vaccinated in order to use transportation such as planes, buses or trains.

Missouri recently opened vaccination to more people when Gov. Mike Parson opened Phase 2 in late March and Phase 3 in early April. About 31% of Missouri’s population has started the vaccination process, according to the Missouri COVID-19 dashboard.

Missouri Sen. Bill Eigel on Facebook called the proposed documentation a bad idea, saying “there are few more un-American ideas than denying the free movement … of Americans based on vaccination status.” 

Parson said that the state would never implement vaccine passports but that he would support private businesses who wanted people to be vaccinated. However, the Missouri House voted to ban private businesses from requiring them.

In Missouri, having vaccine documentation would have only applied to traveling, similar to how people need IDs and passports to travel. 

So why all the controversy with vaccine passports?

I understand that many people can’t get vaccinated for different reasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that people who have allergies related to vaccines or vaccine ingredients shouldn’t get vaccinated due to possible adverse effects, although these cases have been rare.

However, people should still get vaccinated if they are able to and should do everything they can to keep themselves and others safe. 

Although politicians are saying that passports are an infringement on rights and an example of government overreach, they’re not, especially if executed well.

Having to provide vaccination records in order to travel isn’t a new concept. International travelers have to get vaccinated for different diseases such as yellow fever before they travel so they don’t spread disease. 

Besides, if I wanted to travel, I would want everyone on that flight to be taking the utmost precaution by being fully vaccinated. With vaccine passports you aren’t just watching out for your own health but also the health of others.

As good as a vaccine passport can be, we must ensure it is accessible to people.

Vaccine passports were introduced as physical or electronic documentation of your vaccination records, making them easily accessible to many people. Something simple we could use for these passports could be our vaccine cards, which would prove that someone has both doses of the vaccine.

The only state to test out something similar to an electronic vaccine passport is New York, which is testing out an app that will have a barcode that businesses can scan to check vaccination records before permitting someone to use the business. 

The debate over vaccine passports is yet another debate in the pandemic that shouldn’t be a debate at all. Once again, it is a common sense idea designed to keep people safe, just like masks.

People shouldn’t be traveling or going to big events or venues if they aren’t fully vaccinated in the first place. Having a business or airport check if you are fully vaccinated is just them looking out for general safety.

Eigel also said in the Facebook post that the politicization of the COVID-19 environment has led the government to continue to infringe on our rights. This is coming from someone who attended a large political rally in September and posed for a photo with a large and maskless crowd

Eigel encouraged people to social distance and wear masks, but his actions said otherwise, especially in his support of a party that has portrayed mask-wearing as an infringement of rights.

The Missouri legislature voted down vaccine passports despite them being a good idea to keep people safe. Providing proof of vaccination isn’t infringing on rights; it’s a display of not only caring about your own safety but everyone else’s safety, too.

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