UPDATE! On May 11, 2021 Governor Henry McMaster filed an Executive Order banning vaccine passports and also went on to place a ban preventing schools and local governments from creating mask mandates.
Please note that Executive Orders are “policy statements,” they are not law. So even though this EO is a really good step in providing immediate protection, we would need legislation passed that bans passports for the statement to become a law, a future governor could not overturn with another EO.
The citizens of South Carolina need protection similar to what many other states (including South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Texas, Florida, and Arizona) have already passed.
Governments worldwide are rolling out vaccine passports, certificates showing proof of vaccination for COVID-19. The models differ from country to country (and region to region) but the idea is generally the same — to require the population to obtain paper or digital documents that give them access to certain benefits or privileges. However, there’s a caveat; the benefits and privileges are only extended to those who submit to being vaccinated (a serious form of coercion). Thus, the passports create a two-tiered populace of haves and have-nots — all based on compliance with government directives to use an experimental pharmaceutical product that was approved for use under an emergency use authorization (not the normally required clinical trial safety data testing). Today, that product is the COVID-19 vaccine. Looking ahead, it could easily be any number of pharmaceutical products, especially given that American biopharmaceutical companies have more than 260 vaccines under development.
Vaccine passports are actually being tested right now in the United States. Despite concerns from public health experts that passports would harm communities already affected by COVID, the state of New York recently began a pilot program known as Excelsior. Developed in partnership with IBM, Excelsior was rolled out in late February and uses the same blockchain technology that IBM’s vaccine passport solution, Health Pass, is built on. Excelsior has already been used to screen patrons for admittance into professional-league basketball and hockey games. Compliance is being driven through the promise of getting society back to normal — and fully and safely re-opening the economy.
Excelsior is one of nearly 20 vaccine passport initiatives underway in the United States, according to a Washington Post report. The passports, which come in the form of paper cards and smartphone applications, will be used to document proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for numerous scenarios — engaging in travel, using public transportation, attending school, entering one’s own workplace, and admittance into places of business. Those who choose not to comply and refuse vaccination or testing — be it on philosophical, religious or other grounds — will be prevented from participating in society or receiving basic benefits. Ultimately, this will create a two-tiered, caste-like society in which many are unjustifiably persecuted and discriminated against, with economic impacts that could devastate many more millions of Americans whose livelihoods are already suffering (or gone) from the extended, and now multi-year, lockdowns.
Health passports have no place in a free society. They will quickly usher in institutionalized segregation and a two-tiered society of haves and have-nots — those with privileges and those who are marginalized, second-class citizens presumed to be “dirty and diseased.”
Passports Violate Federal Laws and Civil Liberties
Despite the positive headlines and corporate talking points that are circulating, vaccine passports are being met with harsh criticism by medical ethicists and others concerned with human rights abuses and violations of privacy rights and informed consent rights. Very simply, the passports violate federal laws that were put in place to specifically protect people against unjust treatment and discrimination, including disability protections.
Moreover, they are illegal. According to federal regulations (45 CFR 46), it’s illegal to force, mandate, coerce or incentivize participation in an ongoing clinical trial. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still in clinical trial until their estimated completion in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
However, that hasn’t stopped public and private entities from promoting their use or trying to tie various privileges to vaccination. In July 2020, Johns Hopkins issued a report urging local and state public health agencies to explore bundling vaccination with other safety net services such as food security assistance, rent assistance and free clinic services that are already being provided to vulnerable populations.
For at-risk populations or those who are economically disadvantaged, vaccine passports will present the choice of complying with government recommendations — or facing starvation, being homeless or losing access to needed medical services. This is coercive, unethical and an egregious assault on American civil liberties that will ultimately affect every man, woman and child. It will also disproportionately affect ethnic minorities, pregnant women, single mothers, vulnerable populations like the disabled, and those who don’t want to disclose their private information, including their medical status.
Passports Raise Significant Privacy Issues
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that defends civil liberties in the rise of digital products, “Immunity passports would threaten our privacy and information security,” and they would be “a significant step toward a system of national digital identification that can be used to collect and store our personal information and track our location.”
New surveillance infrastructures, no matter how “secure,” always create new opportunities for major data breaches and misuse of information, especially national or international programs like Health Pass that house individuals’ most personal information all under one umbrella. According to the ACLU, which has publicly stated that it’s firmly against vaccine passports because of their vast potential for harm, it’s altogether different for an employee to voluntarily disclose his or her COVID-19 status to an employer on a one-off basis than it is to collect and retain information.Other privacy concerns exist around the possibility of additional contract tracing measures as well as the potential by authorities to invade homes and seize individuals and family members.
Forced Vaccination is Unethical, Illegal and Coercive
Despite continuous positive mainstream news coverage of pharmaceutical industry giants (the pharmaceutical industry is the primary funder of the media) and billion-dollar government campaigns designed to convince people that COVID-19 vaccines are completely safe, effective and the ticket to freedom, there are numerous issues with coercing or forcing an experimental medical product on the population.
Most notably, vaccine manufacturers cannot ensure the safety of any COVID vaccine; the products have had months of clinical observation, not the many years that are required to prove safety and efficacy through post-marketing surveillance. First-generation pharmaceutical products are also notorious for unintended side effects. Examples include birth defects caused by the drug thalidomide and antibody dependent enhancement seen with the dengue vaccine. Antibody dependent enhancement is a phenomenon where subjects who receive a vaccine for a virus become significantly more ill when they’re exposed to that virus in the wild. (In other words, rather than the vaccine offering protection, it actually causes them to experience severe illness or die.)
Under current U.S. Supreme Court law, in order to mandate a medical intervention there must be an epidemic that imperils the entire population. According to the CDC’s own data, most people have more than a 97 percent chance of surviving COVID-19 without the vaccine. In fact, for people under the age of 70, the survivability rate ranges from 99.5 percent to 99.99 percent.
Considering these factors, vaccine passports are clearly not medically justifiable and are based entirely on coercion.
- Requiring individuals to use a pharmaceutical product —regardless of how healthy they are or their risk factor for COVID-19 — is unethical and coercive.
- Requiring individuals to use a pharmaceutical product to receive certain privileges or basic necessities is also a form of coercion and, thus, is unethical.
- Requiring individuals to use an experimental, fast-tracked vaccine with 1) known safety concerns 2) no long-term safety and efficacy studies available and 3) no recourse for injury or death is unethical and illegal.
Furthermore, the fact that passport programs are being utilized for a vaccine that has not been proven to stop infection or transmission — and a test that’s merely meant to be a diagnostic aid, not definitive proof of COVID — demonstrates the passports are completely unwarranted and not grounded in science. Critics of the programs say they have everything to do with generating profits, compliance and control — and creating data points for incessant surveillance of the population— not improving health and safety.
Vaccine Passports Are Not Inevitable
Over the past year, public health authorities and the media have incited mass fear in the population through round-the-clock media coverage of COVID-19 cases and death reports and the use of dashboards that display daily COVID metrics. Fear has been utilized as an ongoing motivator for measures like masking, social distancing and getting vaccinated. Yet despite more than a year of draconian public health measures, to which the public has largely complied, officials continue to paint a grim picture, indicating these policies have not been working. At a press briefing in late March, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky issued warnings of “impending doom” and urged Americans to follow public mandates and to “hold on a little longer” until they can get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope,” said Walensky. “But right now I’m scared.”
By inciting more fear and painting a picture of impending doom, public officials are trying to firmly cement the notion that vaccine passports are indeed the only path forward. But are they actually inevitable?
“Now, the idea of inevitability is a powerful tool,” writes Kit Knightly in the Off-Guardian. “You can encourage it as a way of preparing the ground for a policy roll out, sure, but you can also use it to engender feelings of defeat in your opposition and thus gain their consent without force.”
Knightly’s message to his readers is important to heed: “Vaccine passports will only ever become ‘inevitable’ once the vast majority of people have had the vaccine. If enough people refuse to take part, the program will never work.”
Will You Stand Your Ground or Cave to Peer Pressure and Intimidation Tactics?
As the financial stakes get higher and public pressure mounts for individuals to get the COVID-19 vaccine, what will you do when you are asked to show proof that you have received the vaccine? What if you have privacy concerns or concerns with the product? What if getting the COVID-19 vaccine violates your religious convictions or goes against your morals or better judgment? What if you’re at risk of an adverse reaction? What if your child needs proof of vaccination to attend school, but weekly COVID tests aren’t feasible or agreeable? What if you’re healthy but might be dismissed from employment, travel and community events? Or what if you just feel like saying no?
From Georgia to Texas to Kansas, various governors across the nation have stated they don’t intend to force the experimental COVID-19 vaccine. But are they willing to protect their constituents from immense coercion? Even though some passports like Health Pass make a negative PCR test a viable option, there are major concerns —economic and otherwise — with indefinite, ongoing testing. Additionally, even if restrictions don’t come from the government first, they could easily come from businesses and private venues who take matters into their own hands and start requiring proof of vaccination or testing even though there is no federal or state mandate.
With so much at stake, it’s imperative that we abide by our convictions and stand our moral ground.
Say No to Passports and Tell Your Lawmakers To Say No, Too
No pharmaceutical product should ever be forced, especially a fast-tracked, experimental vaccine that’s free from liability for any harm it might cause. Vaccine passports give pharma the final say over if and how we as individuals get to participate in society. This is contrary to the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
Pharma is fallible, the governing agencies that oversee pharma are fallible, and the public-private partnerships that stand to make billions do not get the final say in shaping our individual lives and our culture at the expense of our health freedom and our democracy.
There’s no time to spare! Each and every American must stand up against vaccine passports now! Click now to make it abundantly clear to your elected officials that medical coercion has no place in a free society. Personal choice, not public pressure and intimidation tactics, must be the only factor in getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, we cannot let lawmakers or private businesses usher in a totalitarian society that promotes medical racism, apartheid and eugenics — and where people are forced to show their papers to move about and participate in society and live an everyday life.
Send a pre-drafted, customizable email and tweet to your state and federal officials urging them to stand up against coercion and ban vaccine passports. Afterward, please be sure to share this important campaign with your friends, relatives and neighbors.