Merkel supports plan for EU vaccination passports by summer

Merkel supports plan for EU vaccination passports by summer
Vaccination passports could allow people to travel more freely. Photo: DPA
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expects vaccine passports to be developed by the summer, following a meeting with other European leaders.

“The political target is to achieve this (vaccination passports) in the next few months, I did talk about three months,” the CDU politician said on Thursday after the EU video summit.

The certificate would create the possibility of granting EU residents advantages or benefits if they have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

“Everyone has pointed out today that this is not an issue at all at the moment, given the low vaccination coverage of the population,” said Merkel. “But one has to prepare oneself.”

She added that the creation of the certificates would “not mean that only those who have a vaccination passport are allowed to travel”.

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Countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Austria are pushing for travel rights for people who have been inoculated against Covid-19. Greece and Cyprus have already concluded agreements with Israel on the future entry of vaccinated people.

Some EU regions, such as Poland and Romania, already grant benefits to those who’ve had the jab, for example on entry.

Yet a concrete decision at the EU level is still a long way off. So far, the 27 EU member states have only agreed that there should be a mutually recognised vaccination certificate. A database for the registration of vaccinations and a personalised QR code for vaccinated residents are also planned.

However, Germany, France and others have reservations about attaching benefits to the document – among other issues, it is still not clear whether vaccinated people can pass the coronavirus on to others.

Before the summit, Austria and some other countries had pleaded for a “green passport” based on the Israeli model. In Israel, citizens who have received two doses against coronavirus are issued with a document that allows them to do activities like go to gyms, swimming pools, theatres and hotels.

Member state politicians also talked about approaches to speeding up the delivery of vaccines and travel restrictions. 

Vocabulary

EU vaccination certificate – (der) EU-Impfpass 

Political target – (die) politische Vorgabe

Advantages/benefits – (die) Vorteile 

Vaccinated/inoculated – geimpft

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.


Member comments

  1. This is genuinely creepy. When was the last time someone talked about creating a vaccination passport for polio, or small pox? Why this one virus, which is so tame in comparison, and not all of the others?

    1. To travel to many countries, one must show proof of yellow fever vaccination (even for a short transit through an airport in those places). For Muslims to make hajj, they must show proof of meningitis vaccination, among others. Many countries require proof of vaccination for (X) including polio, if coming from high-incidence areas.

      Lastly, many countries (particularly the US) have strict requirements that immigrants be current on all US adult vaccinations.

      Vaccine passports (e.g. yellow books, approved by the WHO) have been standard for 50 years for travel (if not called “vaccine passports”).

      Personally, I wish that comprehensive vaccine passports were required for more travel. Most adults let their vaccinations lapse, and it would force them to get current on the basics (hepatitis, MMR (since the 80s, the mumps immunity wanes after 7 years), etc.)

      1. Wow! I didn’t know any of this. Honestly as a Canadian who has travelled fairly extensively I’ve never needed to prove a vaccine nor known anyone who needed to, so I guess the issue has never crossed my radar. It’s comforting to know that whatever we’re doing with COVID might actually be consistent with our policies in other areas; in that case, I’ll definitely feel better about it. In Canada we’re openly discussing COVID vaccine documents as a requirement in order to be allowed to use public facilities, transit, or even attend outdoor events in public spaces. Hence my reaction here: COVID would be the *only* disease for which anyone in Canada has ever even suggested doing this, even though in Canada, our fatality numbers have yet to exceed a seasonal flu by any significant margin. I’m all for reasonable measures; I’ve just been primed for skepticism by coming from a country full of hysterical cowards.

        1. Also, I wouldn’t call them hysterical cowards – like most of the West, the population is graying / getting much older and is so more vulnerable to such diseases. Also much of the population is overweight, some are obese, and still many people smoke, all of which greatly increase the likelihood of bad outcomes from an infection with SARS-CoV-2.

          1. I feel like that misses the point somewhat. You’ve given some very good reasons why the virus is as lethal as it is for western populations; my objection is that the reaction of the Canadian population to the virus is wildly out of proportion with its lethality. Actually our elderly population has been, anecdotally at least, quite stoic about it. My 90 year old grandmother has worked in a retail store the entire time, figuring she’s near the end of her life anyway and would rather not die cooped up in her apartment. Many of her friends have acted similarly. Younger people, however, in age groups with overwhelmingly favourable odds of survival, have acted as if the sky is falling; called for long-term military-enforced curfews; bullied and assaulted people for walking their dogs and allowing their children to see sunlight; clung to numerically absurd comparisons with the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic (which killed roughly 1 in every 20 people on the planet); and ostentatiously patted themselves on the back for their great social virtue in using low-income grocery store workers, couriers and food delivery drivers as human shields to protect them from the demon plague.

        2. Well, if you are traveling to Europe, USA, etc., then it fairly wouldn’t have crossed your radar. And some countries give European and North American travelers a pass on the strictest requirements. Vaccine passports will likely be required for the same reasons here in Germany, Denmark will require them for their own citizens and likely most of Europe will as well at some point.

          That said, other than influenza none of the other viruses that we vaccinate against are airborne, and so the calculus is a bit difference. Hopefully this virus will also cause people to want to be vaccinated against flu, for the same reason.

          1. Also, measles is airborne and extremely contagious and we do vaccinate against that. It’s also severely more lethal in young children than COVID19. We’ve had outbreaks in Canada recently due to anti-vaxxers gaining sufficient ground to create pockets without immunity where the virus can re-emerge. But nobody has said “even one life saved” is worth radically altering the entire way of life for everybody; only lives lost to COVID are considered that important.

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