COVID vaccine updates are the piece of the news cycle that presumably the whole entire world is waiting on with bated breath. Each day there appears to be progress made toward a vaccine’s creation and then widespread distribution. With this news not only comes a great many questions across the world around how it will reach the people but also what some of the bigger societal implications will be around the vaccine. One of those pieces is travel. And now the first airline company has come out and said that passengers will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to fly.
Australian airline Qantas announced on Monday that they were looking closely into the possibility of requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination in order to board international flights. The company’s CEO Alan Joyce said in an interview that, moving forward, once the COVID vaccine was in wide distribution, Qantas would consider a mechanism to ensure its passengers had it before boarding any flight. Joyce stopped short in giving clear timelines around this new proposal and said they were exploring changes to their terms and conditions which would make clear the new vaccine rules.
Regarding how exactly Qantas would go about monitoring this COVID vaccine application among their passengers, Jones floated the idea of having a vaccine passport as a means of proof. It’s not a total surprise this news would come from an Australian airline considering that country has had some of the most restrictive pandemic-related closures and border rules. The country has severely limited movement both within its own borders as well as rules about who could enter the country. Qantas appears to be following suit with this news around the vaccine tracing.
And if you think airlines are the only ones who are going to want to see proof of a COVID vaccine among its customers, think again. Ticketmaster recently announced they would check vaccine status among its concert goers in the near future. Considering airlines and concerts are two *venues* in which folks gather in smaller spaces for extended periods of time, it’s unlikely this is where these new regulations stop.
A number of different companies are in the race now to produce and widely distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer was the first to announce it was closing in an effective vaccine with Moderna following quickly behind. And in recent days, a third player AstraZeneca entered the mix with possibly the cheapest solution to date. As we enter the winter months, with cases on the rise, the sprint toward widespread vaccine production is in high gear.
This latest news from Qantas likely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how companies will require and track COVID vaccine use among its customers. And while this messaging and rule creation around a new world order like this isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, we could also see a considerable backlash from different communities who question personal freedom around a medical issue such as this. There are greater societal implications at play than just being vaccinated against the virus. Expect the rhetoric to ramp up right alongside the production of the drug.