The Bad and Good Vaccine Passports

On his blog this morning, my friend and fellow blogger Donald Boudreaux has given three cheers to Florida governor Ron DeSantis for his opposition to vaccine passports. I would give the governor at most two cheers.

Why?

Because one type of vaccine passport is horrendous and a huge violation of individual rights. Moreover, even aside from principle, it’s less and less effective as we get closer and closer to herd immunity. That type of vaccine passport is one that governments are considering requiring. That’s the issue on which I agree with DeSantis.

But the other type of vaccine passport is one that firms and businesses are thinking of requiring before letting people into their buildings. This raises no issue of individual liberty. Well, actually, it does, but not in the way that opponents of these vaccine passports argue. The issue of individual liberty is whether companies should be free to decide whom they get to deal with. I say they should. I have long been a supporter of freedom of association, even in cases where that view has been unpopular. I wouldn’t require someone to be vaccinated before dealing with that person because I had my second Moderna shot 20 days ago. But other people have different attitudes to risk. And a business needs to take into account the different attitudes people have. Some may decide that they can get more business by assuring the public that anyone who enters their business has been vaccinated. This is a great solution to a tricky problem. It also has the side benefit of giving people an incentive to be vaccinated. We still hear about people who are nervous or hesitant about, or even opposed to, getting vaccinated. They should be free not to be vaccinated. But other people should be free not to deal with them.

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