OPINION: Vaccine passports threaten further division
Ian Forsyth/GettyImages

It is understandable that Boris Johnson wants to crack down on those who haven't started their process of vaccination. The more people get jabbed, the more likely that we can keep on top of the coronavirus and its variants. However, the proposed introduction of vaccine passports is anti-democratic and dangerous. 

Vaccine passports have been suggested as requirements for places of social gatherings like pubs, restaurants and sports venues. It may seem like a smart way to keep on top of the coronavirus but it forgets the very foundations of a democratic society. We have to respect a person's right of choice.

While many of us are happy to receive our vaccines, there is a minority who do not wish to be jabbed. These people should not be crushed for opposing the national push. We should understand that there are a number of factors that can come into play.

Mental health

My own mother has seen her mental health spiral astronomically over the past year. She has very little grasp on the here-and-now, never fully getting to grips with the seriousness of coronavirus. It's now difficult for her to keep on top of bills, complete weekly tasks and keep up to date with current affairs. To her, the idea of an injection is a very terrifying prospect because she doesn't understand why she needs one. 

My mum won't be the only person in this position. Those who had severe mental health problems before the pandemic are unlikely to have had them resolved amid this crisis. In reality, this has been as much a mental health pandemic as it has been a public health one. 

Those who have struggled to conceptualise the past 16 months would now be told to bring themselves up to speed, even if they are not mentally able to do so. The opportunity for a steady return to some kind of normal would be blocked by unnecessary hurdles.

It is less about having the jab and more about the psychological obstacles that some people might have to overcome, before they feel ready to get the vaccine. While this will take its toll on the mentally ill individual, it can also add another layer of stress to family and friends who are looking after that particular individual. 

The eventual end of the pandemic should be a huge weight lifted on many mental health sufferers, and their families. Covering long awaited freedoms in caveats is simply cruel and insensitive. 


An extreme fear of needles is more common than you think. One in 10 people in the UK are affected, according to an NHS survey. Provided that sufferers of this phobia follow coronavirus guidelines and keep hygienic, they shouldn't feel as though they are being forced into submission. 

Such a condition should be considered as a medical exemption. People were exempt from wearing masks if they had breathing difficulties and similar levels of common sense would have to be put into place here. A person who suffers trypanophobia should absolutely have the right to turn down a coronavirus vaccine. It would be abhorrent to make them suffer against their own will. 

Lewis Storey/GettyImages
Lewis Storey/GettyImages: Football crowds gathering once again

Anti-vaxxer awareness

While many are also quick to scrutinise anti-vaxxers, there are many vulnerable people who have fallen under the spell of misinformation. At this moment in time, untangling people from that toxic web of lies is an almost impossible task. Changing a mindset is incredibly difficult. 

Anti-vaxxers with a platform that they profit from are very dangerous people. Those who become influenced by these people are merely subjects of exploitation. The government have to look at themselves in this position.

Is the United Kingdom's standard of education good enough across the board? Are politicians out of touch with the ordinary people on the streets?

When Brexit happened, many Brexiteers couldn't tell you specifically why they wanted to leave the European Union, or what they didn't like about the European Union. All they could tell you is that they desperately wanted to leave. Remain voters were told to respect democracy and the rights of people who think differently to themselves.

Many people don't understand why other people think differently to them because they view the world from their own upbringing. 

Somebody who grew up in a liberal middle-class household and went to a grammar school is likely to think differently to somebody who lived in a working-class house and went to a rougher educational establishment. You are often a product of your own environment until you leave that environment and broaden your horizons. 

Divert back to vaccinations and you can come to a similar conclusion. The logic of anti-vaxxers might not make much sense to many but the people who do not trust vaccines are entitled to their viewpoint. That viewpoint may differ from yours because of a different type of upbringing and a different set of life experiences.

Fortunately, the amount of people who are pro-vaccine far outweighs the number of sceptics and this is very important.

The small group of vaccine deniers are unlikely to see their opinions altered. Fixed mindsets. With that in mind, fighting tooth and nail to ensure that they all get jabbed seems farcical. You are arguing with a very angry mob and these passports simply fuel the fire to that anger. 

It's worth remembering that those who are vaccinated are protecting themselves from the virus. It would be incredibly tough for a non-vaccinated individual to pass their symptoms on to someone who has received both jabs. 

Tough call

The vaccine rollout has been the best thing about the government's haphazard response to the pandemic and it has really helped to turn this crisis around. 

Statistics show that over 55% of the UK population have been fully vaccinated while 70.3 million doses have been distributed as a first or a second dose. Those figures will increase now that all over 18s have been given the opportunity to receive jabs; there is also the possibility of vaccinating under 18s. 

In defence of the Prime Minister, getting the messaging right on this particular issue is tough. He absolutely needs to promote the use of the vaccines and he has to make sure as many people as possible get vaccinated. 

As a pertinent alternative, some have suggested asking people to provide evidence of a negative coronavirus test. A negative test would demonstrate that an individual did not have symptoms of coronavirus and that should be enough to end the matter. Tests can be completed in the comfort of your own home and they will not create the same level of animosity that would arise from forcing people to get jabbed. 

It is understandable that the government want to monitor the spread of this virus but they have to do it without delving heavily into draconian measures. It's also worth remembering that vaccine passports would be a huge burden on businesses.

The hospitality sector has taken a battering over this crisis and they do not want to lose out on potential customers. The economy has taken a brutal hit and we need to maximise its recovery potential. Freedom day was supposed to undo all of the restrictions that were holding businesses back; this could potentially be another huge headache in itself. However, while monetary concerns are valid, the real problem with vaccine passports is not tailored to the economy. 

Unfortunately, vaccine passports are dangerously authoritarian and they risk creating more segregation in a society that is already riddled with division. Do not punish those who know no better. Do not chase further conflict. Do not be anti-democratic.