How vaccination may affect travel plans in the future

Singapore is discussing the mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccine certificates with other countries calling it a necessary step towards resuming global travel. In order to proceed with this, there must be global cooperation so that all countries have access to the vaccine. 

Locally, our  COVID-19 vaccination records are digitally stored in the National Immunisation Registry.  Citizens can easily access and view their vaccination records on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) HealthHub app by logging into their Singpass.  Singaporeans have shown interest in vaccination and their impact on reopening tourism for leisure. Though at their back on mind is primarily focused on who is being let into the country and the rise of the Covid-19 transmitted cases. In summary, the topic tends to circle on where and how will the vaccination data be shared with the World Health Organization and other countries, and how as a small country like Singapore could determine that the vaccination records provided by visitors are authentic.

Internationally, many celebrated as International Air Transport Association (IATA) Chief, expresses that personal travel will return in the later part of the year. 

 IATA is presently working with the different states to design and plan protocols and road maps for the safe resuming of travel and reopening of borders.

One of the key elements included in the protocols is IATA’s Travel Pass, a mobile health application that electronically captures and verifies a traveler’s immunization/vaccination history and Covid-19 test results when crossing borders. 

Singapore Airlines will start testing the IATA Travel Pass on departure flights from Singapore to London. Passengers on that route using Apple iOS-enabled phones may download the Travel Pass application and set up their electronic identification with their photo and passport information.

It enables passengers to submit itinerary information and book a Covid-19 test at any of the seven clinics in Singapore, after which the users will have access their test results directly on the app. Check-in staff at Changi Airport will then be able to confirm their status, which will expedite the check-in process, according to the carrier.

But due to current regulations, travelers are required to carry a physical copy of their health certificate issued by the clinic.

IATA is targeting to work with 33 states and regions around the globe on border reopening and worldwide flights. It is an undeniable demand for air travel as people have explicitly expressed their interest to be free again, to go traveling again.

It is expected that recreation and personal travel return more rapidly than business travel. Yet, even with continuous and gradual border openings, it is said that air passenger traffic volume at the end of this year will likely be weaker as compared to the pre-Covid-19 situation.

In hindsight, governments in numerous countries remain mindfully cautious and hesitant in the midst of the potential new Covid-19 variants, which is insightful as they need to deal with their domestic situation first.

As of late, China has just announced the implementation of its vaccine passport in anticipation that it will be recognized by other countries soon, making worldwide travel easier. Germany and the United States are going to follow suit and are said to be ready to present their own shortly after. 

China is among the first in the world to issue a vaccine passport that shows details of a traveler’s Covid-19 inoculation as well as nucleic acid and antibody test results.

Chinese residents can register for the certificate on a WeChat mini program launched on 8 March, Monday. China is preparing itself to discuss with other countries on establishing mutually recognized health codes.

Nonetheless, IATA and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will speed up the procedures for safe air travel by working with the partnered airlines to provide necessary measurements on vaccination, testing, and safe air travel guidelines.

ICAO had executed various guidelines such as masks, health declarations, and empty middle seats in planes and is expected to announce its most recent protocols for health and safety guidelines within the next few weeks.

Personally, I hope that everyone does their due diligence and ensures that sufficient protocols are in place for safe traveling to resume soon.

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