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NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Should flight and train passengers be required to submit vaccination records before being allowed to fly/purchase a ticket?


[one_third]Liberal – Nicole Cheney

Vaccination should not be an option for healthy, non-immunocompromised individuals; a non-medical exemption should not exist under any circumstances. This is the compromise to which one must agree in order to live in a civilized society. In 1905, the Supreme Court decided on the case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a landmark ruling that set the legal precedent for compulsory vaccination for the common good. It is responsible to require vaccination records when enrolling in school, starting a new job, or traveling abroad, for some examples.

However, it is not reasonable to expect citizens to carry copies of their vaccination records to have on hand when commuting. In many cases, it could preclude the poor from even using public transportation, especially those without health insurance or in-between doctors, and ensuring such a policy on behalf of transportation companies would create difficulties in managing both time and crowds. While vaccination is a crucial issue for a safe society, supplying medical records to transportation companies is not a realistic idea.

[one_third]Conservative – Mark Pothen

I’m not at all happy with the principle of government compelling anyone to submit vaccination records before being allowed to purchase a plane ticket. A policy like this would impede upon one’s ability to travel freely and is completely unfeasible in the most mobile society in world history.

This is not to defend those who reluctant towards vaccinations (otherwise known as “anti-vaxxers”) who, according to the World Health Organization, are one of the biggest threats to health in the world. The main problem regarding this policy would be implementation.

For example, in 2014 President Obama did not restrict travel to countries with Ebola, instead saying, “In the 21st century, we cannot build moats around our countries. There are no drawbridges to be pulled up.” He essentially contended that there’s no point in trying to regulate those infected who are coming into the country. Given society’s extreme mobility, someone who is infected is bound to slip through all the screening.

If we cannot even regulate travel of those with a disease, what good are vaccination records in terms of regulating said disease? Travel security is already time-consuming enough with the amount of airport security. I see no point in adding an extra layer that, in all likelihood, will not even complete its intended task.  

[one_third]Independent – Daniil Ivanov 

A lack of vaccination is a major (and growing) public health concern nationally. However, keeping unvaccinated individuals off planes and trains would be an overreach that I cannot support. I do sympathize with those who have children that cannot yet be vaccinated or those who are not medically cleared for vaccination, but a ban from two major modes of long-distance travel for unvaccinated individuals would be a sideways attempt at a government mandate on inoculation.

Public health is a concern of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nationally and the World Health Organization globally; Amtrak should not be the one turning away people from traveling. Health agencies must double down on the scientific evidence behind vaccines, provide proof of safety beyond a reasonable doubt, and help people become educated on these issues.

I also don’t believe that a travel ban on unvaccinated individuals will influence transmission of disease. One can be coughed on at the mall, a concert, a bus, or any other place with a high density of people, so banning plane and train travel seems ineffective.

The root of the question is how aggressively the government should be pushing vaccinations, which is a different story altogether. A swath of misinformation propagated online has made anti-vaxxers more mainstream than ever, so the action of the government should be channeled into aggressive debunking and informing rather than concocting ill thought out legislation.

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