Having to prove that you’ve been vaccinated against a devastating global virus in order to get on an airplane or attend a concert may seem like a scene out of a bad B-list movie. In our unfortunate reality, as COVID-19 crisscrosses the planet leaving carnage in its wake, the concept of having to show an immunity card to do everyday things like attend events and conferences of the near-future is a very real possibility.
What is an immunity card?
Also sometimes referred to as an immunity passport, an immunity card offers proof that someone has been vaccinated against a virus — and is, therefore, immune to it — and can’t spread the virus to others. Or, at least, such is the hope of a planet desperate to get back to life as we once knew it.
Immunity cards could take many forms. They could be a stamp on passport from certain countries. They could be a physical card much like a government-issued photo ID or driver’s license. Immunity cards may even be digitized in the form of a unique and verifiable in-app or digital wallet barcode, QR code or NFC signal.
Why would event organizers require proof of immunity?
Few events of the past required more than a ticket or proof of registration to access the venue. Times are likely to be very different for events of the near and even more distant future.
By nature, physical events bring people together. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of humans may come together — often in small areas — to take part in some of the world’s most storied events. With them, attendees may bring germs and viruses from far-reaching corners of the globe.
The word ‘superspreader’ is rarely seen out of the context of events. Quite simply, events — any gathering together of people, particularly indoors and in close quarters — represent the ideal opportunity for COVID-19 to spread to new human hosts.
Events as we know them represent a significant risk for the rapid and exponential spread of the Coronavirus. Beyond the intrinsic and dire public health consequences of a superspreader event, event organizers may also face liability for exposing event attendees to COVID-19 without having taken proper precautions to mitigate risk.
Will I need to be vaccinated to register for or buy tickets to an event?
Even as the planet begins to heal and look beyond the darkest days of the pandemic, public health authorities will remain highly attune to new COVID-19 case counts across geographies. Many governments will likely require that their populations be vaccinated in order to be authorized to attend school, travel, or enter public places.
Organizers of events expected to exceed a certain number of attendees may be required to confirm that attendees have been vaccinated. Event registration forms of the near-future may ask registrants to certify in advance that they have been (or will be) vaccinated for COVID-19.
Will immunity cards have to be renewed?
As a novel virus that first became known to humanity in the tail end of 2019, the science hasn’t yet caught up. Anecdotal reports suggest, though, that it is possible to contract COVID-19 more than once.
Like vaccines for the common flu, COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and health professionals have suggested that a vaccine for this newly discovered Coronavirus may not only require a booster after the first month or so, but may also will require annual (or thereabouts) vaccinations to be effective.
Immunity cards may have to be renewed with each new vaccine administration on a regular cadence until global health authorities have determined that the threat of COVID-19 is substantially diminished.
Will COVID-19 immunity cards be forever?
It’s too early to know for sure, but like the common flu, it is possible that COVID-19 may be here to stay forever — bouncing around from host to host in a high stakes game of whack-a-mole being played on a global scale.
Humanity has amassed significant forces to better understand and mitigate the threats posed by COVID-19. While the virus itself may never fully retreat, our understanding of the contagion will only improve as we discover more and more ways to better combat it and keep it at bay.
Although proof of immunity may be required to access events of the near-future, events themselves will begin to slowly return to normal as more and more attendees are vaccinated and the threat of COVID-19 begins to dissipate worldwide.