Global health researchers say vaccine passport debates raise ‘alarming’ ethical issues – Halifax
The recent announcement by the Quebec government that the province will proceed with the implementation of a vaccine passport has sparked conversations about whether other provinces will follow suit.
“What is crystal clear is that the Delta variant put a lot of pressure on all of us and there is a big fear of a fourth wave. And what is happening right now, I think, is that there is quite a rush for this, ”said Kerry Bowman, professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto.
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Bowman says the threat of a potential fourth wave of COVID-19 due to highly transmissible variants is pressuring government officials to make tough choices with drastic consequences.
“The problem is making good, informed, evidence-based decisions under pressure is very difficult. What worries me enormously is this: it is political and it is emotional, there is a growing polarization, ”he said.
Robert Huish, associate professor of international development studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, received a grant from the Nova Scotia Health Coalition to examine and research the impacts of the stigma and shame of COVID-19.
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“Now we are in what some hope will be the end of the pandemic and others fear it may be the start of the fourth wave. So again the chairs are changing on this bridge, the pieces are moving and we are interested in who is going to be excluded from the main public discourse, ”said Huish.
He says exclusion can marginalize people to the point that they completely disengage from public health efforts to protect the community at large.
“If you think the system isn’t working for you, that public health isn’t speaking for you, that they come up with prescriptions that don’t apply or that make you uncomfortable, you’re more likely to withdraw from the engagement, ”he said.
Huish says there are also privacy concerns when it comes to disclosing personal health information to people without formal privacy training.
“It also becomes a privacy issue when private sector companies start to question your personal health concerns and then base their services on that,” he said.
Huish says granting people the civil liberties passed on on vaccine passports or lotteries is a slippery slope with global consequences.
“Provinces like Quebec are now organizing lotteries to try to encourage more vaccines and even give Quebecers the chance for a third vaccine so that they have the right to travel at a time when there are billions of people. in the world who still don’t. have their first dose, ”Huish said.
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