'It's a careful balance': B.C. expert sheds light on when COVID-19 vaccine certificates could be used
VANCOUVER -- With vaccine distribution ramping up, the matter of restrictions lifting and pre-pandemic activities being permitted again may be top of mind for many British Columbians.
Last week, the province's premier hinted that those who are vaccinated will eventually get more flexibility than those who haven't received a dose. John Horgan was quick to say he wouldn't speculate on what that would look like, however.
A medical ethicist at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Judy Illes, told CTV Morning Live Tuesday that the idea of vaccine certificates isn't out of the question in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think we should have vaccine certificates for COVID-19," she said.
"What I'm trying to move people away from is the notion of a passport. So these vaccine certificates should not be rites of passage."
According to Illes, certificates are best used for access to situations that are higher risk, like at seniors' homes or for international travel.
Illes pointed out that some countries already require proof of a vaccine before a traveller can enter and thinks it's quite likely COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for entry to some places.
"In some cases I think it's appropriate as long as the proper processes are in place so that people who should be checked are checked, and people who are unable to have access to vaccinations are not discriminated against," she said.
"So there is room for them to move around in our world as appropriate, as needed, even if they aren't vaccinated."
Illes also said some restrictions could be harder to monitor and enforce. For example, she doesn't see vaccine certificates being useful for sports games, concerts or stores.
"We need to have the right to decline a health intervention about which we might have some concerns," she said.
"So I think in the case of social structures, social interactions where there's no requirement to go and no necessary access to highly vulnerable people, I'm a little worried about requiring people to have vaccine certificates for those contexts."
Illes also said that, as vaccines are distributed, it's important for members of the public to be informed, trust science and trust public health officials.
"What we want to be very careful about is not creating a situation which we're discriminating against people who cannot have access to the vaccine because they choose to decline or wait or they can't have it for medical reasons," she said. "It's a careful balance."
Dr. Judy Illes' comments were part of a five-minute interview on CTV Morning Live. Watch the full interview in the video player above.