Forum: Countries should accept any WHO-approved vaccine by travellers

With vaccines being approved and rolled out, the majority of citizens in most developed economies could be vaccinated this year.

It will therefore not be long before travel will be in demand among those who can demonstrate they have been vaccinated. Thus, the need for a vaccine passport of some kind to provide authenticated proof of vaccination seems inevitable.

The International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, known as the yellow card, already exists, for example to document Yellow Fever vaccination.

However, there is a serious issue with regard to Covid-19.

Countries have approved different vaccines for use.

For example, Singapore has approved only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (with the Moderna and Sinovac vaccines being reviewed), while China has certified only its own local vaccine to date.

Russia has its own vaccine and so does India. Singapore, too, has its Lunar-Cov19 vaccine in the pipeline.

So what happens if a Singaporean who has received a vaccine that has not been approved by the United States or Britain wants to travel to these places? Will they let him enter, or will they insist on the traveller getting a vaccine that has been approved in their countries?

This is a highly likely scenario as countries put in place strict entry protocols around vaccine certification requirements.

It therefore becomes essential for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to play a more active role. Any vaccine approved by WHO should be acceptable to all countries. (Exactly like how other vaccines are globally approved today.)

Otherwise we would have many difficult travel issues. And would people be forced to get vaccinated twice or more?

Or will quarantines continue to be the norm until all countries agree on a common set of approved vaccines?

Rahul Patwardhan

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