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Are vaccine passports for travel morally justified?

Hopefully, governments will give credence to the protection of humanity's fundamental liberty, ie the freedom of movement


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The Malaysian government has indicated it is seriously considering allowing those who have received the complete dose of a Covid-19 vaccine the right of passage.

This would mean the vaccinated might be allowed to travel interstate, crossing borders within the country.

Other countries also appear to be considering granting travel for the vaccinated to leave or enter their country.

The question is, are provisions for the right to travel morally sound when vaccinations cannot be imposed upon citizens especially in a climate where the currently available vaccines to curb the spread of the coronavirus are only approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for “emergency use” only?

Further, as there are countries that have already started allowing the use of oral drugs like Ivermectin, citizens should have a right of choice whether they want to take the existing vaccines or seek oral medications.

We need to also recognise that existing vaccines are not readily available in all countries for their people for their people to make an informed choice.

Likewise, the existing vaccines are not equally accepted by all vaccine-producing countries. For instance, there is great impasse between vaccines patented in the West and those coming from China and Russia.

Existing vaccines are also not able to claim 100% efficacy, and there are reports worldwide of post-vaccination infection cases.

Besides, as the coronavirus virus attacks also depend on the state of the immune system of its host, there are individuals who are blessed with a strong immune system and are able to minimise the risk of being infected by observing the ‘new normal’ Covid rules that are in place.

Hopefully, the Malaysian authorities and governments elsewhere will give credence to the protection of humanity’s fundamental liberty, ie the freedom of movement.

The introduction of vaccine passports for the right to travel, whether within a country or across international borders, is a moral disorder that must be avoided.

If such passports must be considered to curb the potential spread of the virus, then people who choose to take Ivermectin or any other medication that the WHO might approve over time should also be granted that same and equal right to travel.

Perhaps thinkers and philosophers should converge to help instil the right moral philosophy to guide governments and to prevent any government or regime from abusing its power during this healthcare crisis.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Paul Lim
Paul Lim
1 Aug 2021 4.14am

This is not an easy issue to handle and reach a decision that is agreeable by governments. In the EU, initially, it was considered discriminatory but now a Health certificate has been legislated. Mobility has been pointed to as a spreader of COVID. At the same time it is also summer holidays and the issue of jobs and the economy. This means those who haven’t been vaccinated or refused vaccination have to take their holidays within their own country. You cannot keep people indefinitely under lockdown too. How to décide and especially with the new variants running around? In France, there is consideration for compulsory vaccination for all frontliners I.e. the nurses, the medical profession and carers ……

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