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Binghamton University, State University of New York

‘Immunity passports’ for COVID-19 must be distributed equitably

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 i.e. “immunity passports” promise a way to return to a more normal social and economic life, but the benefits they generate will be dispersed unequally, and it is not obvious that they are ethical, according to Nicole Hassoun, professor of philosophy at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She said that exceptions must be made to allow for an ethical system. 

“On the one hand, immunity passports offer an opportunity for employees to go back to work and families to reunite,” said Hassoun. “On the other hand, they will not be available to everyone, and they will exacerbate existing inequalities.”

Hassoun said that immunity passports should only be offered to people who pose very little risk to others, and have ethical immunity passport systems, we must allow some exceptions.

“These must include health and welfare exemptions so that people who cannot access vaccines for health reasons but need to work, attend school, travel and so forth can do so when the expected benefits exceed expected costs,” said Hassoun. “If prospective travelers, or their family members, have serious economic, health or other needs, they should be able to secure a limited passport to access essential services—whether that requires going to work, traveling or attending school as long as they agree to take appropriate precautions (e.g., get tested, wear a mask, and social distance insofar as possible).”




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