Will Airlines Require Vaccine Passports in 2021?

Will Airlines Require Vaccine Passports in 2021?
  • The International Air Transport Association is in the final stages of developing a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport for travelers.
  • Most airlines have yet to announce if they’ll require passengers to show proof of getting the vaccine.
  • Travelers should expect to continue wearing masks and social distancing on flights, even after getting immunized.

After almost coming to a halt during the pandemic, travel is set to make a major comeback in 2021; once the COVID-19 vaccine is widely distributed.

Governments and airlines can start asking travelers to get vaccinated; prove it with a new form of digital documentation called the vaccination passport.

Here’s what we know so far about the next vaccine passport; plus expert information on what to expect on a trip next year.

New travel document

COVID-19 vaccine

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline trade association that represents 290 airlines around the world; announced on November 23 that it was in the final stages of developing a digital vaccine passport for travelers.

Dubbed the IATA Travel Pass; the digital health document will provide a way for travelers to obtain certification of things like their vaccination status; COVID-19 test results from medical facilities and share that information with airlines and border authorities.

Travelers would carry their COVID-19 certified health information through a new contactless app from IATA.

Alan Joyce, chief executive of Australian airline Qantas; told reporters he believes getting a COVID-19 vaccine (and likely proving they’ve been vaccinated) would be a necessity before taking a flight.

Other airlines are still silent on possible requirements for their flights, but experts say travelers should expect to show proof of immunization once the vaccine becomes available to most people in the United States. United, probably next spring.

“Airlines do not want to be accused of being vectors of the virus among passengers on board,” said Dr Robert Quigley, senior vice president and global medical director of International SOS, a health services company and security, and MedAire, which provides training, medical equipment and other services for flight crew and passengers.

“It’s about protecting yourself against the transmission of the disease and not getting it into areas that are not infected,” he added.

So far, experts like Quigley believe that the vaccine passport will apply mainly to international travel, rather than domestic travel, but travelers should keep an eye on airline announcements over the next few months to find out. ensure they have the correct documentation for upcoming flights.

Travelers should also keep abreast of vaccination requirements and other measures destinations may implement for foreign visitors next year.

Proof of vaccination in the past

COVID-19 vaccine
Vaccine concept with syringe in front of blurry vial and yellow international certificate of vaccination in background

While the proposed vaccination passport has made headlines in recent weeks, showing proof of vaccination at certain borders is nothing new.

The vaccine against yellow fever is sometimes necessary for travelers to or from countries where there is a risk of contracting the disease, such as Uganda and Brazil.

Travelers usually show proof of their yellow fever vaccination at borders using the World Health Organization’s “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis”, a yellow booklet filled out by a doctor.

“The yellow booklet for yellow fever vaccination is sort of an outdated solution; from an era when everything was written on paper;” said Dr. Martin Krsak, infectious disease specialist at UCHealth Infectious Disease / Travel clinic ( TEAM) of the University. of the Colorado Medical Campus Anschutz.

New to the upcoming vaccination passport is the digitization of health information; which would provide an easier way for border officials and airlines to control the growing number of travelers; who will likely soon have to show proof of vaccination in many more. places. the world.

Precautions during travel

COVID-19 vaccine

Just because you get the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean you won’t have to follow; other precautions that have become common when traveling during the pandemic.

“There will be continued efforts by airlines; airports, and the travel industry as a whole to focus on hygienic best practices,” said Quigley. “That’s a good thing, it’s long overdue, and I think it will persist perhaps even forever.”

Travelers should expect to continue wearing masks and social distancing on their journeys over the next year, said Krsak.

They may be exempt from other requirements, such as quarantining at the destination, once they have proof of vaccination, though.

“Essentially the major improvement offered by the vaccination passport would be freer mobility,” he said. “Some particularly strict lockdowns would no longer apply to the carriers of such passports.”

For now; travelers should continue to monitor what’s going on in the industry in regard to the vaccine passports and other requirements.

“It’s still very fluid and we don’t know what’s going to happen with regard to these passports,” said Quigley. “They’re strongly encouraged in the industry; that initial notice by the IATA is the first indication that something is going to change in the industry.”

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