To put the pandemic behind us, America desperately needs at least 75 percent of adults to get vaccinated. But since millions of Americans say they don’t want to get the jab, we need to incentivize them to do so. “Vaccine passports”—which are just easily-accessible ways of verifying vaccination without viewing an individual’s personal health information—are an indispensable tool to do this.
Sadly, and predictably, the issue has been exploited for political gain by Republicans pandering to their far-right, truth-denying, science-denying religious and nationalist base—most notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has (probably unconstitutionally) banned even private businesses from using vaccine passports in the state.
I’ve been writing about the ethics of health regulations for 25 years, and it’s quite clear that conservatives’ purported objections to vaccine passports are specious at best. While there are legitimate issues of privacy and security, these are being addressed. And contrary to conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene’s blindingly stupid protestation of “fascism, or communism, whatever you want to call it,” portable vaccine credentials are an ethical, American way to beat the virus. Instead of government mandates, vaccine passports incentivize people to make the right choices and harness the energy of the free market to solve a collective problem that we cannot address individually.