Verdict: Should Austria introduce a Covid-19 immunity pass?

Verdict: Should Austria introduce a Covid-19 immunity pass?
An example of a coronavirus vaccination passport. Photo by Lukas on Unsplash
Almost two-thirds of Local readers would support the introduction of a Covid-19 immunity pass in Austria - despite expressing concerns about the fairness of such a plan.

Last week, we asked readers of The Local Austria if they would support the introduction of an Israeli-style coronavirus immunity pass for vaccinated people.

The pass would allow people who have had both shots to have certain privileges, including visiting restaurants, pubs and gyms along with sporting events, concerts and travelling.

In total, we received 54 responses.

READ: Austrian Chancellor Kurz to push for Europe-wide vaccination passport

While we received dozens of individual responses on the idea – many of them positive and many of them expressing concern – a clear majority supported the introduction of a vaccination card.

However, the percentage of people who thought the card was a good idea was lower than those who said they’d sign up, illustrating that many would chose to adopt the card despite their underlying concerns.

Almost two-thirds of readers would sign up for a Covid-19 immunity pass

Almost two-thirds – 63 percent – of readers would sign up for a coronavirus immunity pass if it were to be introduced in Austria.

A further 31.5 percent would not, while three percent of respondents told us they were unsure.

…but slightly less think it’s a good idea

In order to differentiate between those who were enthusiastic about the idea and those who would sign up begrudgingly, we also asked if people thought the card was a ‘good idea’.

In total, 57.4 percent felt it was a good idea – while 40.7 percent told us it was not.

The remaining 1.9 percent – one person – told us they were unsure.

Why were people keen?

The vast majority of those who supported the idea said they did so out of a desire to return to normality, with travel a particularly strong demand.

One told us “People who are vaccinated, take tests or had the virus should have an opportunity to live a normal life” while another said “Anything that allows restaurants, gyms, hotels etc to open safely I think is a great idea.”

Another said it would be a welcome change from Austria’s current approach, which is focused on testing.

“It will allow us to easily identify ourselfs (sic) as safe without tge (sic) need for testing every time we want to do sonething (sic)”

Others said they supported the idea because it would be an incentive to vaccinate.

“Immunity cards could incentivise more people to get the vaccine, for instance, if the card would be a waiver of the quarantine and/or PCR test result requirement for travellers. Especially with the upcoming summer vacations season!”

Why were people opposed?

Readers’ concerns about the card were many and varied, ranging from concerns about “medical dictatorships” to worries about privacy.

When asked to outline specific concerns, while ‘no concern’ was the most popular response (38.9 percent), worries that it would amount to compulsory vaccination (25.9 percent), that it would be unfair to those who were not yet vaccinated (16.7 percent), uncertainties about whether vaccinated people can still spread the virus (13 percent) and privacy and data issues (5.6 percent).

As reported by The Local this week, new research indicates that vaccinated people do not spread the virus. 

Some of those who were reluctant said they were concerned about potential side effects or medical issues.

One told us “I’m in fear of the sife (sic) effects. I have asthma and allergies,” while another said it could cause problems for people who were unable to take the vaccine.

“What about people who have auto immune disease and cannot be vaccinated, we would be locked in the house till we die? And how would you give vaccine to people if it’s not tested 5 to 10 years?”

Only fair if everyone has a chance to get the jab
However the major response we had to the poll was that an immunity card would be unfair to those who have not had a chance to be vaccinated, particularly with Austria’s slow moving vaccination system.

In Israel, a centrepiece to the plan is that the card has been introduced alongside a fast-moving vaccination system.

One summed it up as follows.

“The roll out is too slow at the moment for this to be a fair policy. It will exclude a sizeable chunk of the population who simply aren’t vaccinated because they have no access.”

Another agreed.

“As long as roll-out is ONLY after vaccine is freely available to all general population. It should NOT happen before this point. A global health crisis requires a global response.”

Do you agree with the above sentiments? Has your opinion changed over time? Please let us know below.


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