By Eleni Papageorgiou,
Back to the not so old and forgotten year of 1885, the US had proved that a vaccination certificate used as a passport could work. At the end of the 19th century, humanity faced a severe pandemic called smallpox, but the hygiene and tracking systems were not as developed as they are today. So, in order to save themselves and others, people had to follow state decisions and be vaccinated. Because the supporting documents for such a purpose were not so widespread and easy to obtain, everyone ought to have “a vaccination certificate, a properly scarred arm, or a potted face”, as an El Paso newspaper reported in 1910. This way, they could prove that they had survived smallpox. Long story short, physicists were appointed to check on the passengers of trains heading to the United States asking them for the evidence mentioned above. If they could not prove that they had been vaccinated, they were either vaccinated on the spot or were asked to leave the train before it entered the United States.
Due to smallpox rage, humanity tried its best to achieve complete immunity and a safer living environment in order to do ordinary things such as travelling. Today history repeats itself and Americans are looking forward to a normal life after COVID-19. The matter of the health certification has come to the fore again, this time probably in an electronic form. Many political analysts and medical experts suggest that proof of vaccination will be necessary for international traveling, attending big events such as soccer games or even the return to usual working environments. On the other hand, many are opposed to vaccination tactics and especially to its mandatory nature claiming that requiring such documentation infringes on individual liberties. For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced a total ban to these kinds of passports and says that it is “unacceptable for either the government or the private sector” to require vaccination in order for citizens to be “able to participate in normal society”.
Τo a large extent, the same procedure of mass vaccination was used in the fight against smallpox. Τhe innovative vaccine brought both joy and distrust to the West during the 18th and 19th century. The classic syringe was not used and instead they scratched pustular material on a person’s arm. The vaccinated area would form a blister, scab over, and leave behind a mark-able scar. Because of the great amount of outbreaks in the period between 1898 and 1903, many states of America used all their legal means to put pressure on reluctant Americans. Following this effort and wanting to avoid the worst, many industrial workplaces such as factories and mines, dining areas and clubs, public schools and other places where social gatherings took place demanded vaccination for their workers, visitors, students etc.
Does this sound familiar?
The Canadian government seemed to be hesitant in the past about the idea of a vaccination passport for travel. But Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his cabinet have changed their tune considerably over the past week or so. Greece, Iceland, Spain and other countries have also mentioned the idea for such a passport in order to make travelling easier. As it was back then, once again society is called upon to adapt abruptly to a new reality with great difficulties. It is true that isolation and especially the fear of survival make people’s lives unbearable during all the hardships that humanity gone through. But the important thing is to see that in some way humans always recover and are “reborn” stronger in order to teach future generations the value of life and health. There have always been and will always be objections and doubts to something new, let alone a vaccine that is about to inject a virus in our body. Τhe problem arises when the knowledge provided through the internet and social media is abused and deliberately disorients the general population who do not see the seriousness of medical statistics (e.g. deaths per patient group, deaths per vaccine, average age of the dead, etc.). In this crisis, we must follow the instructions of doctors only and allow politicians to use the vaccine for a shorter and safer return to our former lives. Αlways based on critical thinking and free choice. Just as the American population did a hundred years ago or so, proving to us that vaccination passport works.
- The U.S. Has Had ‘Vaccine Passports’ Before—And They Worked, ΤΙΜΕ, Available here.
- Trudeau: “We Are Among Those Countries” Exploring Vaccination Passports, ZOOMER, Available here.