26th February 2021

Vaccination passports – ‘certificates of vaccination’… already certificates of vaccination in some form are being considered by some countries, and by some airlines, so as to facilitate overseas travel. So far, so uncontroversial.

Where it gets tricky is in relation to vaccination certificates in everyday life. A pub or restaurant may require a ‘certificate of vaccination’ before accepting a booking. Some companies are considering making vaccinations compulsory for all staff.

Some of this is quite understandable. Health and safety, controlling the spread of coronavirus, keeping restrictions to a minimum, ‘looking out for one another’ – all these are in the mix.

But then things begin to get more difficult. What if you can’t be vaccinated, or choose not to be? What if the certificate isn’t legitimate?

Imagine a scenario: a group of friends go for a meal and one of them can’t show a vaccination certificate; imagine if an over-zealous security officer refuses entry because their computerised checking system makes a mistake… imagine if a venue decides to ban an ethnic minority group altogether, because – well, everyone knows they don’t get vaccinated… imagine if the state introduces legislation preventing access to healthcare or benefits or public transport to anyone without a certificate of vaccination…

Fears and concerns about proof of identity, misuse of state power and access to society have been around for generations. The Nazis made Jews wear yellow stars. Revelation imagines the ‘mark of the beast’ (Roman Emperor Nero according to some) being needed to allow buying and selling…

What should Christians make of all this, whose identity is bound up not with any particular behaviour, but with Christ alone?

Michael Docker