We asked students how they’d feel about a compulsory vaccine passport before going out

Sheff students will lose theirs before even getting to Corp

Groups within the leisure industry are pushing hard for a vaccine passport system (where pubs, clubs and restaurants can legally turn away anyone who cannot prove that they have been vaccinated against covid), to speed up their ability to reopen to the public.

This is something that has been explicitly ruled out by Michael Gove, in much the same way that extending free school meals over the last half-term holiday and allowing teachers extra input in deciding last summer’s GCSE grades were explicitly ruled out. That is to say, it’s probably going to happen as soon as there’s enough public pressure for it.

On paper, the system makes sense – the sooner businesses can open safely, the less financial damage the leisure sector (and the whole country) will have to endure. This does seem like a good way to get doors open before the whole country has been vaccinated. 

Upon looking at the vaccine rollout hierarchy, though, it’s fairly plain to see that no one under 50 will be receiving the vaccine for a long time, as we are the least vulnerable and therefore, understandably, last in the queue. 

So, if the vaccine passport plan goes ahead, we’ll probably be looking at a situation where young people can go and work in a bar or restaurant serving food and drink to the elderly, or at a gig collecting peoples’ tickets, but be unable to go to these same places as a customer.

We’ve heard from both the students and the oldies to see how they feel about vaccine passports.

The students:

Ross, 21

“It’s a bit ridiculous. Obviously, young people have died of the virus, but 90 percent of the reason for the lockdown was to protect old people. If this system is implemented, they’re the first ones to be able to go out after we locked down the country for them.

“I understand that old people have had their share of issues, like loneliness and isolation, but it’s younger people who will be going out to bars and gigs and festivals, we’re the main drivers of the gig economy, and keeping us indoors for an extra month could push more businesses over the edge. Maybe once the vulnerable are vaccinated, we can relax the rules a bit more for those less at risk.”

Will, 20

“I’m fine with the idea – it allows for a covid-free spot to drink like normal. I think it might put some people off going to the pub, though – like if one out of your friendship group hasn’t been vaccinated. You might just be tempted to go round to someones’ house instead, as that will probably be fine as lockdown starts to lift.”

Cody, 21

“I think it makes a lot of sense. I mean, I can’t think of a better idea. I can see it causing a lot of issues with people claiming the vaccine is being forced on them though.”

The oldies:

Joanna, 48

“I think it should be up to individuals to decide whether or not they want the vaccine – people shouldn’t be punished for not getting it. I assume it will be up to individual restaurants to decide, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m guessing a carvery would be quick to implement it, but somewhere like Leadmill would be less keen.”

Sam, 50

“I am in favour of a vaccine passport, even though it would effectively make the vaccine compulsory. There’s a collective responsibility, and the vaccine is to benefit everybody, not just the individual. That only applies if vaccination prevents transmission, and not just symptoms, though.”

Claire, 60

“I’m completely in favour of it. If I had to choose between going to a bar that was using the system, and one that wasn’t, I’d always choose the first. If young people are being disproportionately affected by this, older people are being disproportionately affected by the virus if you don’t get vaccinated!”

Whatever your opinion on the passport system, which may or may not soon be making its way to a pub or restaurant near you, it’s important to remember that the vaccine itself isn’t something that scientists are trying to force upon us to exert some form of control. Government policies can be misguided, but, as a rule, always trust world-renowned scientists over whatever anti-vax content you see on Facebook. If no one trusted Edward Jenner, we’d all still be dying of smallpox.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Sheffield is officially in the new Tier 3: Here’s how it affects students

From Shrek to Robert Pattinson: These are Sheff freshers’ best window displays

Sheffield students start petition urging for unused accommodation to be opened to refugees