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Another Voice: Vaccination passports are barrier to equity for WNY

Another Voice: Vaccination passports are barrier to equity for WNY

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I got my “Fauci Ouchie” last week and am scheduled to be fully vaccinated by mid-April.

Let me be clear, although I do believe that vaccination prevents the spread and is overall good for the society, I don’t believe encouraging New York business to use vaccination passports is the answer. Depriving people from enjoying life without getting vaccinated or tested is a barrier to equity, will bring up a slew of ethical concerns and will hurt Western New York’s economy.

Moreover, it has been widely acknowledged that Western New York has been struggling with availability from the get go. While I qualified in February, I was only able to secure an appointment for the end of March and even then, I had to drive to Rochester. This is because mass vaccine sites around Buffalo perpetually had no availability. Although most New Yorkers will be eligible starting Tuesday, it looks like the earliest appointment at a state site in Erie County is in May.

With vaccinations open to everyone, the amount of people who will need it for vaccination passports to be equitably used will be overwhelming. Pushing businesses to use vaccination passports to admit people to events will slow down the economy in Western New York yet again.

Although one can say that vaccination is not the only way to prove your eligibility, and a negative Covid or antigen test are also acceptable options, yet again, this is a problem. KeyBank Center, which opened up four Sabres games to a general audience, requires proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. This comes with a cost of $30-$64 per test – an added expense to the already hefty price of the tickets. Surely things like that will deter people from spending money in the region. After struggling through declining incomes through the pandemic, it is hard to justify an added expense.

Young people, who are the last to become eligible to receive the vaccine, will get a shorter end of the stick. While they tend to be the ones who go out and attend the events and spend money, they are the least likely to be vaccinated. Surely this will hurt businesses already struggling through the pandemic.

Everyone in the state of New York has the right to privacy of their medical information, something the vaccine passport could jeopardize. There is no guarantee that this information won’t be hacked or somehow used against us in the future. It is reckless to push large and small businesses to use this technology, without making sure it is secure.

What is more, this step prompts the question of whether vaccination passports will eventually become mandatory and will they aggregate other sensitive information beyond vaccination?

Jen Sidorova, of Buffalo, is a a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation.

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