The vaccine passport debate is heating up – how might they change the event industry in 2021?
During the first few months of 2021, attention was rightly paid to the remarkable development of vaccine programs worldwide to fight the coronavirus pandemic. After Pfizer, Moderna, and others achieved the unthinkable by developing effective COVID-19 vaccines in under a year’s time, hundreds of millions of people worldwide have already been fortunate enough to receive their doses. While billions more still await their vaccines, people tired of the pandemic worldwide see hope for a return to normalcy approaching.
But just getting the vaccines to people was the start. Now, questions have arisen worldwide about how to start offering a return to normal for vaccinated individuals. The key to this return to normal is a foolproof system of tracking and verifying vaccination histories. That’s where the COVID vaccine passport idea has come in. So what should event profs know about vaccine passports? How they might help bring back the in-person weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate retreats, reunions, and other events?
What is a COVID vaccine passport?
Just as a traditional passport reveals your citizenship to allow entries into foreign countries (or re-entry to your own), a COVID vaccine passport would allow government officials to verify vaccination histories to help keep the spread of COVID low as herd immunity is built worldwide. This idea is not new, and portable vaccine records have a long history. They are used for allowing schools to safely enroll children each year, as well as for health care workers who must supply records to travel through tropical or disease-prone regions of the world.
Like many other things over the past year, this idea is not without controversy. There have been heated debates about the legality of requiring people to receive vaccines. Additionally, people have bristled at requiring them to carry identification information that displays their vaccine record to anyone who may require them (perhaps to attend a conference or a wedding at an event venue). Advocates for individual freedom argue that this would be an overreach of government authority. Meanwhile, supporters of vaccine passports insist that this is the only way to help return to normalcy quickly, without risking another surge among people who have yet to receive their shots.
What industries could benefit from vaccine passports?
Why the push for vaccine passports in some form? Well, here are just a few of the industries that could benefit from adoption of the system:
- Travel – perhaps no industry has been more fundamentally shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic than travel. Airlines, hotels, resorts, and other travel partners took 80-90% hits in volume over the past year. Vaccine passport tech could allow for a much quicker return to previous levels of travel and occupancy.
- Education – the debate over reopening schools has centered on the ability (or inability) of schools to protect their populations from outbreaks. Vaccine passports would allow school attendees the ability to prove their low risk of infection. This could supercharge a return to normal schooling.
- Events – the “canary in the coal mine” last February, the widespread cancellation of events worldwide served as the early warning of the global shutdown that followed. Event planners desperate to begin filling venues, booking clients, and hosting full-capacity events could ease liability concerns with a portable proof of vaccination.
- Athletics – from grade-school to pro athletes, sports have continued in fits and starts throughout the past year. Athletes and athletics professionals at all levels would welcome the ability to hold safe and secure sporting events again thanks to a vaccine passport.
What might a vaccine passport look like?
Part of the ongoing debate around vaccine passports is which format would be most convenient and secure. Advances in digital technology have led to discussions about a variety of options, including:
- A mobile app or QR-code based option. This would allow you to scan your mobile device to reveal your vaccine record as needed
- A more permanent version of the vaccination record cards that are currently distributed when receiving your doses
- A central, international database. This would allow government officials and others to simply check your normal ID and reference your record
Whatever the format, vaccine passports must include safety features that protect personal and private health information. Laws like HIPPA in the United States have stringent restrictions on the sharing of health information. Governments face challenges in finding an option that does not violate these privacy guidelines.
How RSVPify is offering a passport solution for event profs
Here at RSVPify, we are well aware of how key vaccine passports are to the return of in-person events. That’s why we have rolled out a new vaccine passport feature that can allow you to screen guests for vaccinations while the world debates a standard solution to the issue. With RSVPify’s vaccine passport option:
- Event hosts can choose to require guests to upload proof of vaccination while registering for any event
- Guests will be asked to upload a snapshot of their current vaccination card as they register, making for one simple process
- Event hosts will then be able to verify or access any proof of vaccination needed to ease liability concerns and ensure the safety of their in-person event attendees and employees