Will a ‘vaccine passport’ be required to travel? As idea grows, travelers have mixed reactions

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An expanding idea is stirring up controversy: Should a vaccine “passport” be required for things like travel?

The idea is picking up traction in Europe, and some support it in the United States, too. But President Joe Biden will likely leave it up to the airlines and others in the private sector to implement mandatory vaccine requirements.

FOX4 spoke to travelers at Kansas City International Airport who had mixed reviews about getting the vaccine to get on a plane. 

“The cruise lines are going to expect you to be fully vaccinated with both shots before you travel, so if the airlines require it, then it won’t be a problem,” Daniel Hardin said. 

Federal officials have said they will not mandate a vaccine for travel, but the door is still open for airlines and other private industries to require them. Some travelers said they wouldn’t take the shot to get on a plane.  

But would it be ethical for airlines to mandate vaccines? Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries already required vaccines for visits. Tarris Rosell, Rosemary Flanigan Chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics, said there are positives and negatives to mandating the vaccine for travel. 

“I think we need to always be aware that there are inequities within society and that whatever we do, however well intended is, we need to be cognizant that some may not be able to get on the train in the same way that the some of the rest of us can,” Rosell said. 

Some say if vaccines are mandated on planes there should be exceptions. 

“There’s a lot of people in line to get the vaccine, and I can’t get it right now,” traveler Ashley Lewandowsky said. “So if it was required right now for me to have a vaccine, I wouldn’t be able to see my mother, and she just had a seizure.” 

As some speculate on whether vaccines will be required to fly, others are taking advantage of fewer regulations and more states and countries reopening. 

Keyona Gregory owns Key 2 Paradise Travel. In the last 90 days, she’s booked more than 100 passengers, and many have questions about both domestic and international. 

“You know if I want to go here, is a COVID vaccine required or is it just the test?” Gregory said of one common question. 

She’s noticed more people booking travel agents to help navigate the COVID-19 restrictions and regulations that vary based on cities, states and countries. 

Earlier this year, the United States made it mandatory to have a negative COVID test before returning from international travel, and Greece reopens its border to vaccinated travelers in May. Gregory said many people opt for domestic destinations like Hawaii and Puerto Rico to avoid extra steps when taking a trip.  

“They say, ‘Maybe find me an alternative that doesn’t require that,’ or some are like, ‘Roll up my sleeve and let’s go,’” Gregory said. “So it’s definitely a balance of, you know, if they want to do it or not. The same with the COVID test.” 

Gregory said she personally doesn’t mind taking a vaccine to travel. 

“I want to make sure I’m educating my clients and making sure that they know everything they need to know prior to going so they feel safe and confident when traveling,” she said. 

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