What Vaccine Passports Could Mean for College Students

Vaccine passports. This new term is gaining popularity as vaccinations have been rolling out nation-wide and internationally. The purpose of this passport or digital pass is to make travel simpler. And for college students, a vaccine passport could potentially bring many advantages. But with uneven vaccine distribution throughout the world, there could be potential problems with such a passport. 

Despite the CDC’s advice to avoid unnecessary travel (yes, even after vaccinations), spring breakers still took the beaches both 2020 and this year. And if this is the case now, and vaccine passports were to make that process easier (such as no quarantine requirements) the volume of travelers could significantly increase.

From an ethical perspective, vaccines should be taken to combat the virus, not as an easy way out to vacation. But this situation could be inevitable. And while international travel is not the first choice for everyone, especially during this time, it isn’t uncommon either for college students to travel internationally for spring break. 

But in regards to the future, students looking to study, work, or take a gap year overseas could have a more manageable process with a vaccine passport. Additionally, international students wanting to visit their home countries would have more flexibility.  

Yet, the issue resides in making vaccines available for everyone. While eligibility in the United States is increasing for more people, many countries are still lacking vaccines. According to UNICEF, “almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose” as of February 2021. Thus even if outsiders arrive vaccinated to their destinations, they could still pose a threat to the unvaccinated population of the country they travel to. 

Additionally, many countries are also heavily dependent on their tourism and so these passports could be significantly beneficial for them. It’s also common for countries’ governments to pose specific health requirements (such as vaccines) for travel, so the process won’t be unfamiliar for Covid-19.

Like many topics associated with Covid-19, there has been political pushback towards the vaccine passport as well. This could not only lead to difficulty in creating such a pass but also meeting international decisions for a worldwide approved passport. 

While the discourse about vaccine passports continues, there’s still a long way until they become a significant part of traveling. The priority should be to have a well-vaccinated population, as well as avoiding unnecessary travel.