• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 36 comments on “Vaccine Passports”: COVID-19 Protection or Discrimination against BIPOC and the Poor?

    1. Actually, that never existed. See illegal drug laws, mandatory seatbelt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, mandatory vaccinations to go to school (remember having to verify your vaccine status to attend BU?) There is a big difference between slogans and reality.

      1. In addition to what LHG said, even if that did legally exist… My right to swing my fists ends where your nose begins. The physical consequences of you not getting vaccinated don’t stop with you, unlike in the example the slogan comes from.

      2. Mandatory school inoculation is not 100% enforceable because of personal rights, whether they are based on religious, moral, or physical beliefs.
        The implications of forcing people to wear seatbelts or motorcycle helmets is a weak comparison and not applicable to this topic because the seatbelts and helmets are proven and are not physiologically-altering substances.
        Illegal drug use is a personal belief that the person is made better by inducing a foreign substance into their that has a known effect and it is at that person’s consent. It is an infringement upon a person’s rights to be forced to take an unproven substance that has possible devastating effects.

    2. I think you make a valid point. If a state actively supports abortion rights, where you ARE terminating a life other than your own then the same state should support your right to refuse to vaccinate under the same premise. A seatbelt & helmet are not being injected into your body & people can still choose not to use them. Also does this set precedent for all future upcoming vaccines? Are we all going to be required to take every vaccine available from now one regardless if it’s tried & true? There are several in the works now. Are bipoc communities going to be last on the list to have access or worse be used as unpaid lab rats b/c they’re first in line under the guise of “helping the less fortunate”.
      Also I know many people who are adament that others be forced to get the covid vaccine but are just as adament that the HPV cancer vaccine is only for promiscuous people & they would “never” let their child have it. So what if we forced it on them? Should we force ALL vaccines on everyone?
      Let me use a non-covid reference. Donating organs saves lots of lives. Should we force everyone, whether they agree or not, to donate upon death to save lives? Same with donating blood, plasma & marrow. Should we force everyone to do that to save lives?
      It’s a slippery slope & the term “for public safety” is a big giant chasm that can include all sorts of things. In the past that term was used to force sterilizations, lobotomies, medical treatments, massive racial discrimination campaigns & all sorts of things that we consider totally wrong today. I think we really need to think about what we’re doing before forcing anything.

      1. Excellent counterpoint to the issue of mandated vaccines. I believe it is a personal liberty and an individual choice. We all have different physiology. There are risks with these vaccines. I’m not against vaccines. I have an autoimmune disorder. I am hyper vigilant about anything going into my body. I just don’t believe that anyone should be pressured or forced into vaccinations. It’s morally and ethically wrong. This is a scary topic because it could change the future policies. As you said so clearly “it’s a slippery slope”.

        1. I did one Moderna vax mainly because of the copious teens at my house due to school closures. I have autoimmune also so before doing a 2nd shot I checked my antibody titer levels which were above the max readable cut off…so I chose to not give myself the 2nd vax…but since I’m not “fully vaccinated” I cannot do volunteer work at the San Diego symphony outdoor facility, despite showing immunity!! But I can and did buy tickets to show…so where is the logic in that??? Feels like discrimination if you ask me.

    3. Not vaccinating but being healthy enough to is the equivalent of covering yourself in feces and complaining businesses won’t let you in.

      “My body, my choice” was specifically that a fetus has to use a parent’s womb, and does not usurp the parents right to their body. A closer comparison would be if the state required you to donate blood/plasma to other people by gun point.

      Nice try though. Using memes for arguments is a good sign of a healthy, critical thinking mind. I’m being sarcastic because I think you might lack the wit to know I am.

  1. While vaccinations offer a lot of protection, they do NOT guarantee you will not contract COVID-19 nor that you cannot carry it from one contact to another,

    1. When a pregnant waitress does not have access to a vaccine and her employer asks his patrons for vaccination passports, she knows that her customers are vaccinated and her contagion rate is diminished, she will feel not only protected but safe and would be able to continue her employment and provide for her new baby. When a family is at a movie theater that requires vaccination verification, the parents will be at peace knowing that their children potential exposure to the virus is much smaller than in a theater that does not require vaccine information. When grandpa is safe at the nursing home not only because staff has been vaccinated but also because visitors have been requested to show a vaccine passport, grandpa can enjoy a birthday surrounded by friends and family without worry of contagion.

      1. Let’s be realistic, there will be counterfeit passports that can’t be prevented. Passports only provide a false sense of security. In reality nothing is for certain. These vaccines have not been proven to be 100% effective. Even thousands of fully vaccinated Americans are coming down with Covid still. But this is not readily published since it will cause fear.
        I will not ever abandon wearing masks and goggles or eye shields. Nor will I be seen in mass crowds. I’m a woman aged 72 but I have to protect myself even though I do not have any pre-existing conditions. I haven’t gotten Covid nor will I because I’m healthy, eat right and exercise. So in that way I will be certain that I won’t endanger my family friends or anyone that I will come in contact with.

        1. I agree with you I feel the same
          I’m healthy ect why would I inject something to make me sick and may not help me more than 6 months and not knowing any long term any effects on your kidneys, heart cause cancer lymphoma ???? Who knows ??? If you feel safe getting it then do it , but if you don’t it’s your choice stop shoving this shit down everyone’s throats not everyone going to follow you to jump off the Brooklyn bridge geez
          Others may have a great immune system and never get it I know a 67 year old spent5 days in a house with a COVID patient never got it

      2. Vaccinated people are still spreading the Delta variant so looks like the notion of being “safe” because everyone else is vaccinated is incorrect thought process…

        1. Probability of being hospitalized is lower.

          You’re not an MD to be saying something so silly about how vaccines work. Without herd immunity, they can’t guarantee everyone protection.

  2. I think this article brings up a good point. Discrimination that occurs within low- income communities has been an issue that we have been constantly fighting in the United States. Personally, I think that “vaccine passports” are a good way to ensure that the US can resume normal life and allow smaller businesses to flourish again. The hardest part of this is making sure that these low-income, smaller communities have proper and equal access to the vaccine. Personally, I find it strange that at the federal level, there haven’t been official legislative processes taken to ensure that everyone in the United States is able to receive the vaccine. I think it also brings up the question of safety v.s individual rights and what is more important. At this moment, I feel like ensuring that people have the vaccine and limiting the spread of COVID may slightly outweigh the importance of small personal privacy.

  3. This article addresses an important point about the accessibility of COVID vaccines. This is an issue that needs to be addressed both nationally and internationally. New York launched a Vaccine Equity Task Force to ensure equitable distribution of COVID vaccines. However, since vaccine distribution has been left to the states, equity has not been achieved at a national level. That being said, I do think that the vaccine passports offer a safe way for life to go back to “normal,” whatever that may be. While research is ongoing, the CDC has found great success with the effectiveness of preventing vaccinated individuals from contracting COVID. Additionally, the vaccines are effective in significantly decreasing the symptoms in patients that do contract COVID. The World Health Organization did make a good point that vaccine passports should not be required until vaccine equity is achieved. Making sure that people who want the vaccine can access the vaccine should be the most important issue in the country right now.

  4. I find it very interesting that vaccines, particularly the COVID vaccine, have become politicized. Some of the other comments on this article provide examples of this new phenomenon; people are saying things like “my body, my choice,” and “coercing COVID vaccination is immoral.” But this article wasn’t even about whether or not people should have to get vaccinated- it was about potential discrimination against BIPOC and the poor through the requirement of vaccine passports. Not everything has to be turned into a discussion on the infringement of personal liberties (though to be clear, I do not think that a vaccine mandate would be an infringement). People should listen to and learn about the issues facing marginalized groups, rather than try to speak over them with their own issues. Those discussions can be held at a separate time and place.

  5. The risk of a healthy human first contracting and then dying from Covid-19 is about the same as being struck by lightning. This debate is getting beyond absurd. If the vaccines are effective you should be safe in any environment with or without vaccinated people. If they are not then what is the point? At the end of the day you can’t have it both ways. If you believe the vaccine is effective in preventing infection and spread, you have ample opportunity to voluntarily take it. In that universe you would have to accept also that the people who have not been vaccinated are no threat to you. The fear mongering has to stop.

    1. “The risk of a healthy human first contracting and then dying from Covid-19 is about the same as being struck by lightning.” This is an incorrect statement.

      1:6,632,653 chance of dying by lightning strike. 1:2,321 chance of dying from COVID-19 (actually, the risk has gone up since this calculation was made) . There is no comparison.

      Those that are not vaccinated continue to be a threat to the entire population. They provide ample host lodging for mutating variants that are becoming more tenacious and dangerous. At some point, the vaccinated population may lose their protection because of this situation. Note what is occurring with the delta variant.

      1. Curious about your statistic about people dying from a lightning strike.

        How would one go about measuring that?
        Do you place a person in the middle of a field during lightning storm and see if the person survives? Do the person in question actually have to get hit by lightning and survive. Can it then walk out of the field and be considered done or do it have to stay there for the whole duration of the storm?

        Because that is what Covid is, you standing in the middle of a field unprotected. During a lightning storm just riding it out.

        So far we seem to have a far greater chance of surviving covid then a lightning strike.

        With that said, you should definitely take cover during a lightning storm…

    2. what a breath of fresh air it is to read the thoughts of an actual thinking, reasoning human being. You are a rare breed in these times of panicdemics and fear mongering. People no longer have the capacity to reason. Is this a side effect of the vax I wonder? Yes the fear mongering has to stop. Now there’s a true story of pandemics!

  6. What no one is understanding is that there are some people that have severe allergies. I have spent 5 days intubated having an allergic reaction to a prescribed medication. I was that one in a million. It cost me thousands of dollars for the medical bills. Now you want me to be forced to have a vaccine . I’m terrified it was the worst experience of my life I still have panic attacks because of what happened. Will the government pay my medical bills? Will you? Will I be denied going to the grocery store or anywhere because I cannot have a vaccine that hasn’t been proven for people like me that have allergies . Try getting a gun put one bullet in it spin the chamber put it to your head and fire. It’s the same thing you’re going to do to me . I don’t want to play this game. Please leave me alone with this vaccine. I promise to always wear a mask when around people so you won’t have to worry about me or you. We are all different with different reasons for not vaccinating . Do not judge try to understand and let me live my life as COVID free as possible.

    1. I am facing a similar situation right now. I’ve had an anaphylactic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past and have not taken a flu vaccine ever since. For the past several years I have also been taking a beta blocker, propranolol – if forced to be vaccinated and should I have a reaction requiring epinephrine it could lead to a very serious drug interaction. I also already had COVID-19 last year and recovered.

      My employer is now mandating proof of vaccination to be in the office. How many people in my situation would be willing to sign a consent to be vaccinated and put themselves in a potentially life-threatening situation? I have been waiting more than three weeks for a referral to an allergist to evaluate my situation and obtain a medical deferral. In the meantime this is causing me undue stress and I feel as though I am being treated like a pariah, people are so unfairly and cruelly judgmental.

  7. This whole thing is some of the worst discrimination I’ve ever seen and experienced. I have good reason not to get “the shot” number one I’m highly allergic to even the regular flu vaccine..I also have spiritual beliefs which do not allow me to put such a foreign substance into my body. I’ve researched the ingredients that are contained in the so called vaccine and it s not even a regular vaccine. There are too many questionable ingredients in it.number three I’ve had the covid and at 61 I recovered so I feel that I must have an immunity. I agree, if that shot is so great than what are people who have had it so fearful of. And why so hateful??

  8. I would like to thank everyone here for the civil discourse with this highly polarizing topic.
    There are some excellent points made.
    I agree with Lee Williams’ very well written refutation above.

  9. I have been vaccinated and have my card but am being forced to allow the administration of my adult community to make a photo copy of my card in order to participate in any activity or use our maintenance department. The excuse for a hard copy on file in their office is “in case we get sued”. Where and when will this end?

  10. My concern is what about we immune compromised people who are at a much higher risk of adverse reactions due to vaccines. I speak from first hand knowledge and am very concerned that people like myself are going to be made second or even third class citizens because of an issue we have no say or control over. There’re millions of us world wide and other than Sean Hannity, I’ve heard ZERO public debate or concern

  11. I can’t believe that people are still blindly following like lemmings and calling this a vaccine. A vaccine, like the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella, PREVENT you from ever getting measles, mumps, and rubella. These shots for COVID are NOT VACCINATIONS. They are simply a flu shot aimed at the corona virus. Like a flu shots, they do not absolutely prevent you from getting COVID. Even the COVID vaccine extremists are finally admitting that fact that we have known for over 12 months. If the COVID vaccinations were actually vaccinations, then those who are vaccinated would have no reason to try to bully the unvaccinated into taking shots……because they would be protected from the virus by the vaccine. Since they are NOT completely protected, that is what’s causing the problem. As a result, the vaccinated are trying to bully the unvaccinated into taking the shots in an effort to ensure that everyone is still at some risk because the vaccinations don’t work?????????? This whole set of logic doesn’t work. Call it a FLU SHOT….that is basically what it is.
    The COVID shot argument is simple. Those who support it are those who are most concerned for the HERE and NOW and see the COVID shot as a way to lessen the risk of negative health effects of COVID now. Those who are against taking the COVID shots are those who are more concerned with the future and the COMPLETELY UNKNOWN negative health effects that these shots may cause in the future. I find it very interesting that both sides are so “dug-in” that they refuse to have reasonable conversations with the “other side” regarding why they feel the way they do. I certainly do not think that either side has the right to MANDATE how individuals should decide.

  12. With so many fully vaxxed people having Covid, Saying your biz only allows people who are fully vaxxed is promoting a false sense of security. Quite dangerous for vulnerable people that don’t think it through. Why is this not being brought up in the press?

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