Opinion: Covid surge boosts case for vaccine passports
While cowardly politicians run as fast as they can from the concept of requiring vaccine passports to enter most public spaces, the midsummer surge of COVID-19 spurred by the disease’s Delta variant here and around the nation strongly boosts the argument for such passports.
Around largely reopened California, where masks until very recently were officially required only in a few places like hospitals and grocery stores, it’s impossible to tell just by looking who’s been fully vaccinated and who has not. People with medical cause for refusing vaccines find themselves flying blind, not knowing who might be a threat to them and who is not.
While the willfully unvaccinated take advantage of renewed freedoms won by those who had their arms jabbed, they put thousands of others at risk of death and disease.
The only way to be sure who is definitely not a contagion threat is a vaccine passport of some sort, either the small white card handed out at vaccination sites or something electronic available on smartphones.
This is becoming ever more clear as the efficacy and safety of the three vaccines readily available in California — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — becomes more certain.
The new surge involves almost no one fully dosed with any of the three vaccines. Less than 1 percent of hospitalizations involve the vaccinated. It’s been almost exclusively the unvaccinated driving new cases statewide back above 3,000 per day over the last week or two, a figure that had been breached only once in the previous two months.
The same recalcitrant folks are increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations again, too. All this, while the average age of the hospitalized dropped from 72 last January to below 57 today.
In short, because vaccinations of those over 65 became almost universal in this state within three months of the shots first being offered last winter, almost all the elderly are safe. Protection offered by the covid vaccines also appears to be far more universal that what almost any other vaccine ever has given. While some immediate side effects are common, so far almost none last longer than a few days.
But resistance to getting the shots remains adamant, especially among the young, Blacks and Latinx folks, for whom infection rates run far higher than with whites and Asian-Americans.
“I’m not getting the shot,” insisted a husky, healthy (so far) 53-year-old African-American man the other day. “My vaccine is up there,” he added, pointing to the sky. “We just don’t know enough yet.”
With seven months of vaccination experience, Americans know far more than they did early on, when blocks-long lines of cars waited at mass vaccination sites in the parking lots of places like Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and the Oakland Coliseum. We know getting the shot won’t make you some kind of robot, as some once feared. You also won’t become a clone of Bill Gates, that early shibboleth long ago debunked. Every far-fetched claim has been disproven. The main unknown now is whether the vaccine’s effects will run long enough to avoid the need for annual booster shots like those for flu vaccine.
Right now, there’s a major need to assure safety for small children and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons in a state where they can’t see who is a threat and who is not, at a time when almost everyone scorns social distancing.
There has to be a way to distinguish the vaccinated from the resistors. Which makes vaccine passports logical.
From the start, one fear they’ve aroused is that such passports might set up class distinctions. Indeed they would. But two classes already exist: People who took the opportunity to free themselves from the tyranny of COVID-19 and those who declined that free offer, endorsed by President Biden, ex-President Donald Trump and every sane politician in between.
The difference between this class distinction and others is that almost anyone in the disadvantaged class can join the advantaged one at will.
Anyone who does not and then falls ill has no one but themselves to blame. Meanwhile, they continue sowing confusion, worry, masking and expense for the vaccinated and every health system.
• • •
Email Thomas Elias at email@example.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net.