COVID-19 vaccine passport could help facilitate EU travel, says Czech Health Minister

According to Jan Blatný, while a COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory, it could make European travel much easier next year

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 21.11.2020 13:47 (updated on 21.11.2020)

While Czech officials have been quick to note that a COVID-19 vaccine will not become mandatory once introduced next year, vaccines might greatly ease requirements for travelers, according to Health Minister Jan Blatný.

Speaking before the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Blatný addressed a potential "vaccine passport" that was being discussed among EU officials. Holders of a certificate of vaccination would theoretically be able to travel throughout Europe without the need for COVID-19 testing or quarantine, which is currently the norm in most EU states.

"It's just a way the European Union, where we belong and want to belong, is trying to help those who travel," Blatný stated.

"It is certainly easier to go out with a card in your pocket than to have an examination performed before each border crossing."

"Like many of you, I remember a time when we were waiting at the border, then still with barbed wire, and crossing the border was something that many of us could not imagine at all. Now it's all different and even in the current difficult epidemiological situation, it should make it easier for people to travel. Nothing more, nothing less."

While Blatný stressed that neither vaccination nor a vaccine passport would become mandatory, he admitted that they could help ease current travel requirements.

That could be a major step in encouraging people to get vaccinated. According to a recent poll, only a third of Czechs would be willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine is made available.

Former Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula previously discussed how a COVID-19 vaccine passport might work in an interview with Mladá fronta DNES, and how it might encourage people to get vaccinated.

"If I go abroad with a card that says 'I have been vaccinated,' and I can go anywhere and I do not have to prove that I have been tested, and I will be allowed to walk around without a face mask, that is a great motivation [to get vaccinated] in my opinion," Prymula stated.

"And I think, say in June, people will suddenly change their minds and want to get vaccinated. And by that time there may not be enough vaccines to go around."

In the UK, a proposal is being discussed that would allow those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 into sporting events and other large gatherings.

A vaccine passport is already required for pets in the European Union, to ensure that they are up to date with required shots, and a similar measure for children has also been discussed in the past.

Last year, prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, the European Commission began examining the feasibility of a common EU-wide vaccine passport that would be proposed in 2022.