A Letter to Our Readers from the Chesapeake Observer Editors

This holiday season, we ask each of you to join us in sending to our state and county health authorities the suggestion that, as a matter of common sense, they provide for vaccination certificates immediately.

To date, there is a dearth of specific information regarding the timing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations, except for health care workers and those in long term residential care facilities. Moreover, there is no plan that we have seen that ensures that those who elect to receive Covid-19 vaccinations will be provided with a certificate attesting to that inoculation. In decades past, international travelers were advised or, depending on destination, required to have a record of their vaccinations recorded in a “yellow book” or some other official document.

Making provision for that kind of record now will be much more efficient than trying to create it later after millions of people have been inoculated that may not have any proof or certification. This would affect not just those seeking to travel beyond the US, but in the case of many states those traveling domestically.

There is no need to create a new form. The World Health Organization already has an International Certificate of Vaccination which is published by the Department of Health and Human Services as Centers for Disease Control Form CDC 731.

This type of record could also be a key factor in allowing the return to many activities that we have been required to foreswear, such as dining indoors, attending religious services, going to the movies, resuming in person education, going to sports events or simply having a drink in a bar. Those with vaccination certificates could be presumed to be low risk. Since something approaching sixty percent of our population will get the vaccine when it becomes available, they will constitute a significant safe element which could resume a whole range of activities, benefiting the economy in general, workers, small businesses and our communities. But it all starts with having the proof of vaccination. The time for our health authorities to start is now. Every person who receives the Covid-19 vaccine should also simultaneously receive a completed CDC 731 record.

We do not propose that any particular individual be required to accept Covid-19 vaccination. There will be cases in which it is contra-indicated medically, or in which individuals have concerns about side effects or religious objections. But absent good medical cause, those who choose to be vaccinated should not be denied the full social and economic benefits of this important breakthrough. This is a breakthrough, after all, that is as much economic as medical.