The debate on vaccine passes

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The debate on vaccine passes

 KANG HYE-RAN
The author is the head of the international teamof the JoongAng Ilbo.


I was planning to visit Chuncheon SF Film Festival at the weekend, and the organizer asked whether I was fully vaccinated. Chuncheon city is currently at Level 3 social distancing status, but the organizer was considering requiring reporters and guests to provide proof of vaccination or PCR tests. After the Busan International Film Festival, which opens on October 6, set the precedent, Chuncheon followed. As I realized it was still important to be careful, I gave up on the outing.

What they tried was a kind of “green pass.” The green pass is proof of immunity, recovery from Covid-19 and negative PCR results. In Israel, which is said to be advanced in the vaccination process, the pass is required to enter public places or attend public events. Italy requires all workers to have the green pass from October 15. It is partially applied in Germany, France and Denmark. As the disease control authorities recently mentioned introducing the vaccine pass, it is being discussed in Korea, too.

Unlike Korea, where wearing masks in public places has been required from the early stage of the pandemic, rules regarding masks have caused intense controversy in other countries. So there’s no way there wouldn’t be arguments over the vaccine pass. It was first implemented in New York, and supporters and opponents are fiercely debating whether to expand it across the U.S. It is already mandated in France, where violent protests broke out. Britain weighed the option and decided to implement it as needed, in the fall or winter.

The vaccine pass is being considered in Korea in preparation of more relaxed disease control, or “Living with Covid.” Meanwhile, vaccine passes in other countries are a desperate measure to boost poor vaccination rates. Korea was short on vaccines in the early stages of the pandemic, but the rate of vaccination is fast.

CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, said that we’ll return to routine life as early as within a year. But that is based on vaccinations. I don’t know if it’s routine when only those who get vaccinated every year can return to normal. But it sounds like the worst is over.

Now we need to specifically draw out the “routine” we hope for. I expect the vaccine pass discussion to reflect Korea’s know-how on the implementation of mask requirements.
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