Hypocrisy, ignorance, and privilege in opposition to vaccine passports

You have the right to choose not to be vaccinated for COVID, but everyone else has a right to deny you access to services for your choice.

Cropped version of an image from the Staten Island Advance, by Jason Paderon

After the pandemic started, businesses started posting “No mask, no service” signs at their entrances. And, predictably, so-called conservatives and libertarians went bonkers, falsely claiming that this was an unConstitutional breach of their civil liberties. As I pointed out in May, 2020, this was rank hypocrisy as so-called conservatives and libertarians had been legally denying service to others (originally hippies and suspected liberals) for generations.

In the last couple of weeks, the same so-called conservatives and libertarians went bonkers again over the idea that other countries might require travelers to be vaccinated for COVID before entering their country and provide proof of vaccination in their passports (aka “vaccine passports”). And again, they’re conveniently ignoring that travel to Africa and SE Asia has required Americans to get vaccinated for decades now, and for any number of diseases that are endemic to those regions but that Americans don’t regularly get vaccinated for here in the US.

What’s more, they don’t know their history. Protecting public health has always been a legitimate use of government authority. The first use of quarantine was in Italy during the Black Death, nearly 700 years ago. In fact, the word “quarantine” comes from how sailors were not allowed ashore for 40 days. And isolation of leprosy victims, villages infected with smallpox and other diseases, et al has probably been in use since the Roman Empire, if not even earlier.

And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that the US Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly over at least the last 130 years that protecting public health is Constitutional, up to and including mandatory vaccinations.

Put simply, governments have a longstanding right to protect their citizens from disease, and being anti-COVID vaccine (or even anti-vaccine in general) isn’t a protected category like ethnicity, gender, religion, or disability.

The federal and state governments are not likely to mandate vaccination for COVID any time soon, if ever (except for public school students, where mandatory vaccinations are already widely accepted). But while restaurants and retail stores aren’t likely to post “no vaccination, no service” signs, the same cannot be said for joining a gym, attending a concert, booking a flight, or boarding a cruise ship, all of which are likely to end up requiring proof of vaccination. It also doesn’t stop employers from requiring proof of vaccination prior to hiring (like pre-hiring drug tests) or as a condition of continued employment (especially after insurers price the cost of coverage for non-vaccinated employees into the cost of health insurance). And clearly, other countries are likely to require proof of vaccination prior to issuing a visa for entry into their country.

You have the right to choose not to be vaccinated for COVID, but everyone else has a right to deny you access to services for your choice.

Don’t like it? Get vaccinated.

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