5 Reasons Why Vaccine Passports are an Ethical Disaster

2 September 2021

5.2 MINS

Many Australians affirm mandatory vaccination without considering the implications. But no matter how you look at it, vaccine passports are an ethical disaster.

A year ago, mandatory vaccines were almost unimaginable, the stuff of science fiction. Now vaccine passports are being presented to us as the best—if not the only—way out of Australia’s covid crisis.

Recent data indicates that up to 80 per cent of Australian adults are not opposed to being vaccinated. This raises the question as to why vaccine mandates are even necessary.

Despite this, a growing number of Australia’s industries, postcodes and even states are making it impossible for people to go about daily life without proof of vaccination. It appears increasingly likely that a digital vaccine certificate will be required in many parts of Australia for entry into pubs, restaurants, cafes, businesses, public buildings and even places of worship.

From a policy standpoint, vaccine passports may make sense. But they are also profoundly unethical. And this is not an abstract argument. Vaccine mandates are causing significant hardship and distress for ordinary Australians who have already suffered under debilitating lockdowns. And they are a source of great angst for those not yet affected but fearful of what the future holds.

Consider five reasons why vaccine passports are an ethical disaster.

1. Vaccine passports are an unprecedented threat to liberty

Those defending compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations often cite ‘no jab, no play’ policies already enforced in Australia. But nothing in our nation’s history comes close to what is presently being rolled out.

Australians have always been free to work, shop, travel, socialise and gather for worship without medical discrimination. Vaccine passports will force Australians to choose between these birthrights and their medical autonomy. To give the State this level of power over an individual’s body represents a loss of personal liberty unheard of in modern times.

Western democracies like Australia have always prized and protected human freedoms. In defining ‘Australian values’, the Department of Home Affairs website puts “respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual” at the top of its list.

Australia’s emphasis on human rights and liberties emerged out of Christian theology which says that a person’s conscience is sacred and must not be infringed or usurped by State power. Indeed, the worst abuses of the last century were only made possible when governments were allowed to trespass this boundary.

For the common good and future generations, we must not allow the individual’s conscience and bodily integrity to be violated.

2. Vaccine passports replace informed consent with coercion

Informed consent is a bedrock principle of modern medicine. The Australian Immunisation Handbook explicitly states that vaccines “must be given voluntarily in the absence of undue pressure, coercion or manipulation”.

Grave human rights abuses led to the drafting of important international agreements on this matter. Free consent is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is also articulated in Article 6 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights:

Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information.

To make vaccines mandatory—to hold a person’s civil liberties at ransom in exchange for their being vaccinated—is to erase informed consent and replace it with naked coercion.

3. Vaccine passports assume no reasonable grounds for declining vaccination

A sweeping assumption is made by governments and businesses that mandate vaccinations—namely, that there are no reasonable grounds for someone to decide against being vaccinated. In fact, there are many good reasons.

The first and most obvious is someone’s medical history. The TGA tells us that the various Covid-19 vaccines come with risks. For someone who suffers from underlying conditions or has in the past, the risk of taking the vaccine may outweigh the benefits it gives them. They should be allowed to make this decision in consultation with their doctor: this is a right we have always preserved and should continue to.

There are many other reasons someone might decline vaccination. A person’s religious beliefs or deeply-felt personal convictions might prevent them from giving consent. Another person might weigh the risks and benefits of the vaccine based on their young age and good health and decide that the procedure is unnecessary.

An 18-year-old boy, for instance, has just a 0.003 per cent chance of dying from Covid-19. He is more likely to die from electrocution, sunstroke or a sharp object than he is to die of the virus. Given that nine Australians have died as a direct result of taking a Covid-19 vaccine and many more have suffered a vaccine injury, this particular young man might prefer to take his chance with the virus—a choice that should be left up to him.

Of course, there are also those who have previously been infected who now carry virus antibodies. Why should they be forced to take the vaccine when they already have substantial immunity?

4. Vaccine passports create unreasonable discrimination

The covid pandemic has resulted in the most significant wealth exchange in history, further exacerbating the gap between rich and poor. In addition, the social fabric in nations like Australia has been worn thin by the pain and division caused by covid restrictions.

Vaccine passports will only further tear at that social fabric. To exclude ten or twenty per cent of the population from routine daily activities will create a two-tiered society, a form of medical apartheid. The harm will be felt most by those already marginalised.

This kind of discrimination may not even be legal. According to Anti-Discrimination NSW, for example, ‘infectious diseases discrimination’ is against the law. This includes unfair treatment on the assumption that someone has or may acquire an infectious disease.

Legal frameworks like this were put in place to stop people from being excluded from society despite any marginal health risk they pose to the public. We should not abandon our principled commitment to inclusion and social harmony now.

5. Vaccine passports open the door to untold medical control

My digital vaccine certificate might glow green today. But what about when it turns orange tomorrow, and I have to book in my booster shot to maintain my access to society? What about when I have to get another one in six months? And a flu shot. And routine blood tests. Every year on repeat.

My body and my medical treatment regime is now tied to the State, who will be increasingly tempted to provide my biomedical data to third parties—all for public health and safety, of course.

This is not some far-fetched dystopian dream. It is the most likely long-term scenario if we roll out mandatory vaccines today. Vaccine passports place us on the precipice: once we jump, we won’t go back. They are the thin edge of the wedge to significant medical control, and it is naive to think otherwise.

Thomas Jefferson wisely warned that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” Or, as Australian historian Stephen Chavura frames it in our context:

When Covid hit in early 2020, did you think 18 months later we’d have riots in the streets, police shooting rubber bullets at civilians, the military prowling around, church leaders debating whether or not to let unvaccinated people worship in churches, truckies planning to shut the country down, and vaccine passports to enter into restaurants, see friends and family, travel, and even to continue in your job? Did you think you’d no longer be able to enter into any private or public establishment without registering your whereabouts to the State?

Civil liberties are eroded piecemeal, never all at once. And often, it is by those who wish us well. As Chavura qualifies, “This is not being driven by monsters. It’s being driven by saints. People who know how to fix our world now have the science, technology, and power to do it.”

Even if we grant that our governments have good intentions, vaccine passports are an ethical disaster. We must resist them at all costs, and we now have a very narrow window of time in which to do so.

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  1. Sylvia Huxham 3 September 2021 at 5:46 am - Reply

    This is a battle worth the Fight – Thanks Kurt -for writing so clearly and putting the challenge there for the basic value of Freedom

  2. Janet Courtney 3 September 2021 at 6:06 am - Reply

    I don’t agree with you on this issue. People working in medical fields, aged care and where in constant contact with the public should have to be vaccinated. As for your arguments about freedoms, if you have a cell phone, a credit card and a Medicare card the government can find out whatever they want. However we are not living in a totalitarian state and Steven Chavura’s questions can be answered by stating that if everyone had respected our communities’ rights to be safe and obeyed the restrictions imposed for that reason, those continued actions would not be necessary. Pope Francis has stated that to get vaccinated is an act of love for one another, to me it’s the right thing to do if you care for one another unless there is a valid medical reason not to.

    • Trish 8 September 2021 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Absolutely in agreement with you Janet! I had coffee recently with 3 mature (60+ years) Christian women, all articulate and I thought intelligent people. They are also rabid anti-vaxxers. I was apalled to hear them laughing how they ‘pretend to QR code in to shops’ and make their own muslim masks with daylight showing, laughing in a most denigrating way about the Prime Minister and the government … I thought Christ instructs us to obey the law and Governments and PRAY for them. If everyone else is wrong and you’re right and you pray according to God’s will then things will certainly change. God does not encourage civil disobedience. These three women are practising that. As my daughter (with a science background) said, “Mum, you can’t argue with Stupid’. How true.

  3. Megan 3 September 2021 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision. -Winston Churchill-

    Be courageous. It’s all we have left.

  4. Lyn Grindley 4 September 2021 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I wrote to the Prime Minister on this issue. I received a reply on Aug 18th in which he stated that verification of vaccination status was not a “passport” but a formal reward of your vaccination. He went on to say “The Government is clear that vaccination is a personal choice- options to verify a person’s vaccination status will not change this position.”
    Maybe I am missing something here!

  5. Chris Stevens 5 September 2021 at 4:45 am - Reply

    Vaccination passports have long been a part of life since the development of vaccines early to mid last century. When travelling overseas, one had to take a vaccination booklet showing vaccination status. This has been replaced by certificates, eg yellow fever. Many of these diseases are now preventable and no longer common thanks to vaccines.
    Ships with travellers having cholera, smallpox or other infectious diseases had to raise a yellow flag when approaching port, and it’s passengers and crew had to quarantine. Vaccines have freed us from this (until covid19 arrived 2020).
    Before antibiotic use and vaccines were developed life was very different.
    Polio and smallpox were serious diseases, vaccinations became compulsory, and normative. It stopped the spread of horrific diseases. In the 1950s we queued at school for compulsory polio shots. The same needle was used for every child, sterilised in a bunsen burner before each use.
    Measles, mumps, whooping cough, typhoid, yellow fever, hepatitis vaccines have all prevented serious disease. It is only because of widespread use, 97% coverage that eliminated very serious diseases from being common place in our community. If vaccination rates drop, we will again suffer severe illness. Death in infancy from whooping cough, measles was once not uncommon. Vaccination rates have to be high 97% in order to provide herd immunity which will prevent disease spreading to those who cannot for medical reasons be vaccinated.
    We have as a consequence had society free from so many serious and horrific disease, we have forgotten past history simply by not studying or recalling what has gone before in the lives of grandparents, great grandparents and those earlier generations. Life was not this comfortable, lifespans were much shorter. In previous centuries, we were dead in midlife as an average. Infectious diseases claimed the lives of so many people.

    • Charlene Mibus 22 March 2023 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      The vaccines they are giving for covid and the continual boosters do nothing but lower natural immunity and since they do not prevent covid then there will be no “herd immunity”. Why don’t you spend more time studying the real scientific information and don’t you wonder why thousands of doctors are saying the vaccines must be stopped? They aren’t even “vaccines” as you are talking about in the past. These are totally different and have nearly killed as many people as covid did. They are poison and they are killing thousands, maybe millions and you think we should all have them? We will never be free from covid by taking the poison shots, we will just be free of millions of people, some who may be your friends and relatives.

  6. Michelle Sparkes 5 September 2021 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    I think a big piece missing from our current approach (& which could change the conversation around mandates and passports) is the marginalised and dismissed evidence supporting prophylactic and early outpatient treatment. This is relevant whether vaccinated or not. I can’t understand why we are not pushing for and privy to open and robust public debate by the scientists and clinicians who can truly speak to this and increase our understanding and options. I’ve seen the research papers, I’ve listened to the scientists and frontline clinicians who have successfully treated Covid in the last 18 months. Why are these voices not brought to the table for public consumption? This is a huge gap hurting us all.

  7. Margaret Airoldi 9 September 2021 at 1:06 am - Reply

    Michelle Sparkes, you are SO “on the money” with your comments! WE NEED “open and robust debate by the scientists and frontline clinicians who can truly speak” about the SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT of Covid in the last 18 months, without vaccination, and with easily available medicines. Their evidence “supporting prophylactic and early outpatient treatment” has been “marginalised and dismissed”.

  8. Beverley Ruth Paterson 9 September 2021 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Free and open debate is necessary rather than being told we know best.

  9. Kym Farnik 9 September 2021 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Dr James Yun talks about a Christian Doctor’s Perspective on the COVID-19 Vaccines
    Please note that we recommend you watch the whole video from the beginning till the end before you make comments as it follows a logical sequence.

    CMDFA – Christian Medical & Dental Fellowship Australia


    Video Chapters
    0:00 Introduction
    3:45 Concern #1: How does the vaccine work?
    8:05 “The vaccine hasn’t been around long enough”
    12:31 “The vaccine is ineffective against the Delta Variant”
    13:06 The vaccine’s effect in the current NSW lockdown
    14:16 “Vaccinated people are still being infected”
    15:56 “Countries with high vaccination rates are in lockdown”
    18:12 A Christian Response to Concern #1
    19:27 Concern #2: “Vaccination side effects are too risky”
    22:28 “Why do vaccine guidelines keep changing?”
    29:01 Concern #3: “Vaccines are a money-making scheme”
    30:24 Concern #4: “A Vaccine Passport will take away our freedoms”
    33:02 Concern #5: “COVID-19 is just a flu, the vaccine is worse”
    36:47 Concern #6: “What about alternative medicines for COVID-19”
    42:01 Concern #7: “I have the right to refuse the vaccine”
    42:32 Concern #8: “The vaccine contains aborted foetal cells”
    43:07 “There are so many different voices, who do I listen to?”
    45:00 “Should Christians get vaccinated?”

  10. Raoul 11 September 2021 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    (Text spelling corrected) On the Australian Government- Attorney General’s Department Human Rights protection webpage it states; “Australia is founded on the rule of law and has a strong tradition of respect for the rights and freedoms of every individual. Human rights are recognised and protected across Australia through a range of laws at the federal and state and territory levels, the Australian Constitution, and the common law.

    The Australian Government is committed to protecting and promoting traditional rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech, opinion, religion, association and movement. These rights and freedoms are protected by the common law principle that legislation should not infringe fundamental rights and freedoms unless the legislation expresses a clear intention to do so and the infringement is reasonable.

    The Australian common law provides particularly strong protections for freedom of speech related to public affairs and political matters. The government believes these rights and freedoms underpin Australia’s democracy and should not be taken for granted, and has taken some key steps to ensure that these rights and freedoms are protected and promoted.”
    This also applies to mandatory vaccinations. There are alternate treatments for Covid-19 which the Australian Government seemingly have dismissed.

    Consider Ivermectin: 1. Has been around for 40 years. 2. Has been awarded the Nobel Prize. 3. In humans, it treats intestinal parasites like river blindness (onchocerciasis) and a certain type of diarrhoea (strongyloidiasis). 4. It is extremely safe with no known side effects or overdoses. It is much safer than aspirin. 5. FDA approved (Food and Drug Administration in America) for the treatment of covid-19. 6. It works on other RNA viruses: Zika, Yellow Fever, West Nile and Influenza A.

    Ivermectin treats Covid-19: 1. It blocks the virus before it passes through the key mucus membrane cell line, It binds to the spike protein of covid and blocks its action. 2. It blocks the entry of the virus into the cell before replication. 3. It blocks the replication of the virus in the cell. 4. It enhances anticoagulant activity to mitigate any serious damage of thrombosis.

    As for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being ‘touted’ as an absolute necessity for Australians these are the medical facts…

    Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are: 1. Are not vaccines but genetically manipulating drugs. 2. They both are nanoparticles with an mRNA core and a lipid coating. They pass through the cell wall. 3. They both target the spike protein. This spike protein by itself causes vasculitis and thrombosis. 4. When the virus mutates it makes the vaccine less effective. The virus changes the spike protein. 5. The vaccine will require annual boosters to meet the changing virus spike protein. 6. The vaccines have insufficient animal studies. 7. The vaccines Moderna and Pfizer have not had long term human testing to know their safety and effectiveness. This process usually requires at least 5-10 years. These vaccines were only tested for 2-3 months on a select healthy population of hospital and staff volunteers. No pregnant women, children, or sick people were included in this test group.

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