Recently, a college student who had spent a semester on the west coast needed to return home to the Midwest. Her parents had booked a round-trip, first-class ticket, a pricy option to ensure her safety during the pandemic. On the trip there, she sat masked and shielded, as did her seatmate. But on her return flight, her seatmate removed his mask because he ordered a drink, and she ended up moving to the last row of coach, which was unoccupied. Right now, there is no guaranteed way to feel protected from exposure to Covid-19 when flying.
Travel bookings and airport congestion are increasing. Airlines are moving to return to “normal,” selling every seat possible, and some have begun serving food and drinks. I wonder when I will ever feel safe flying again. As a vaccinated senior, I have resumed some normal activities, but going to an airport, navigating the TSA lines, sitting in the waiting area, and now actually getting into the tube-in-the-sky with non-vaccinated fellow travelers who won’t wear masks or who remove them to eat or drink — no way.
According to the Washington Post, government and private industry are struggling with the concept of some kind of digital or paper “passport” as proof of vaccination. Once we reach the point at which everyone who wants the vaccine can get it, perhaps this summer, is there a way to bar those who choose to remain unvaccinated from airports, planes, public transportation, sports venues, indoor dining, and live entertainment?
The Post revealed that The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said in a March 2 presentation, “Proof of vaccination may be a critical driver for restoring baseline population health and promoting safe return to social, commercial, and leisure activities.”
According to the New York Times, New York State has piloted a digital app that allows people to prove they have been fully vaccinated. This would allow businesses, sports arenas, and entertainment venues in the state to open more quickly, with the caveat that people would need to present proof of vaccination in some form to enter. Perhaps Americans who are resisting being vaccinated would be more highly motivated if they needed proof of vaccination to go on a cruise, attend a sporting event, or get on an airplane.