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Let’s wait on immunity passports

Let’s wait on immunity passports

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Movie theaters, churches, super markets, airliners, restaurants and sports arenas are places that really pack in the people. Before the pandemic, filling the seats was the mark of success for those kinds of venues, but as the fight against COVID-19 continues, some Americans feel nervous if others are too close, especially if they’re not wearing masks. The nervousness is because coronavirus infections continue to occur.

In fact, infections are surging in some states — New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois and Wyoming — to name a few.

Much of the fear that gripped the U.S. at the dawn of the pandemic is persisting, even though almost half of Americans have had at least one shot of vaccine and about one-third are fully vaccinated. People who have been vaccinated want to feel safe, but that’s tough when they’re in places where others don’t abide by mask-wearing requirements.

Mask-wearers who have been vaccinated believe they’re doing their civic duty. Wearing a mask and being vaccinated helps to protect others. We’re told that when 70% to 80% of us are vaccinated, we’ll defeat the virus with herd immunity. It’s only when the virus has been defeated that we can fully return to normal life. Businesses and schools can get back in the swing and we can enter crowded spaces without worry.

We haven’t reached that level of protection yet, so the case numbers continue. This week, we averaged 150 Nebraskans per day being hospitalized with COVID.

Until many more of us are vaccinated and everyone takes the basic precaution of wearing masks, people will continue getting sick.

Perhaps it’s out of frustration with casual attitudes about COVID that some of us believe those who’ve received their shots ought to be issued immunity passports. According to a survey by, 71% of Nebraskans — nearly three-fourths of us — believe immunity passports should be issued as proof of receiving the COVID vaccine.

According to, 42% of respondents said the passports could cause concerns about privacy and data sharing, but 59% nationally said they support the passports.

Among Nebraska’s neighboring states, all but one showed a majority of respondents favoring passports: Kansas, 67%; Colorado, 66%; South Dakota, 63%; Missouri, 54%; Iowa, 52%; and, Wyoming, 17%. It’s apparent that a good many Americans who have been vaccinated believe they should have more freedom than those without masks or who have not been vaccinated.

At this moment we oppose immunity passports because the idea could be a disincentive for vaccination. There still are a great many Americans — and Nebraskans — deciding whether to get a shot. We believe that after carefully weighing the facts,when people are free from coercion they’ll make a good decision.

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