Talking point: Vaccine passports not ideal but pandemic approach needs to adapt
I won’t be alone in this, but I’ve found the last 18 months hard.
During the pandemic, I have become a more anxious person. Everyday moments of stress, which I previously would have brushed aside, have built up and caused panic attacks. I have found it difficult to stay healthy while exercise, which had previously been a mainstay in my week, dropped off my radar altogether. And like everyone else, I missed out on months of in-person interaction with family – instead, watching my niece and nephew grow bigger and bigger through the screen of a mobile phone.
Over the last few months, we have seen restrictions lift and life return to normality. I have come to appreciate things that I had previously taken for granted. I have enjoyed delivering birthday presents face to face, seeing the joy (or disappointment) in the person’s face as they unwrap the gift. It has been great to celebrate an occasion in the pub with friends and regale one another with stories of nonsense. I have loved getting back to the football, revelling in the noise and the bright colours of the slick grass and glaring floodlights.
However, as the First Minister has reiterated throughout the last few weeks, our progress is still fragile. The highly infectious Delta variant has caused high case numbers and while the Scottish Government has said it cannot rule out reimposing some restrictions – although with the caveat that they would be limited and proportionate – vaccine passports have been the first port of call.
Following approval by the Scottish Parliament earlier this month, a Covid vaccine passport scheme will come into force from 1 October. It means to get into nightclubs or large events, perhaps some concerts and football matches depending on attendance levels, we’ll need to show proof of vaccination.
There’s been a bit of a mixed feeling around the plans, which I understand. It isn’t an ideal situation and I get some of the arguments around it. Care needs to be taken to ensure that no one is disadvantaged by the scheme. I can also see why some MSPs think there should be a greater focus on proof of a negative test, rather than proof of vaccination.
The reality at the moment, however, is that there isn’t a silver bullet out of this public health emergency – one that has caused pain and heartache, as well as suffering and poor mental health, for so many. If, weighing up the evidence, this is considered the best way to get a handle on the spread of Covid in Scotland at this point in time, then it is worth trying.
Restrictions have not only been debilitating to businesses and the wider economy but become a source of fatigue among a previously compliant public, gradually losing effectiveness over time. An alternative to blanket measures was always going to be needed. That doesn’t mean vaccine passports are the perfect solution or guaranteed to work as intended, but we need to be willing to adapt our approach to dealing with this crisis.