The Accelerating Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines Makes Domestic 'Immunity Passports' Largely Irrelevant

Vaccine hesitancy will decline as more family, friends, and neighbors get vaccinated.


Nearly 181 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed in the United States, and more than 143 million of those have been administered. More than 93 million U.S. residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 51 million people have been fully vaccinated—including 5 million inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine. This means that slightly more than 28 percent of the American population has gotten at least one dose, and 15.5 percent are fully vaccinated.

"When Israel hit about 25 percent of their population vaccinated, that's when they started to see the [case] declines that were ascribed to the vaccination. We're right about at that tipping point," former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CNBC's Squawk Box.

The latest real-world data show that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 80 percent effective at preventing both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 infections after one dose; after two doses, the effectiveness rises to 90 percent. Since both vaccines prevent asymptomatic disease, vaccinated people are unlikely to harbor undetected infections that could transmit the virus to unvaccinated people.

In clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease and the AstraZeneca vaccine 76 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness. All four vaccines are basically 100 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

Most epidemiologists believe that somewhere between 70 to 85 percent of the population will need to be protected through infection or vaccination to achieve herd immunity against the virus. With herd immunity, the epidemic abates because people who remain susceptible to infection are increasingly surrounded by immune individuals who serve as a barrier, preventing the microbes from reaching them.

Various polls suggest that about 30 percent of Americans are reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A recent Pew Research poll finds that the percentage of people saying that they will get vaccinated has been increasing as the vaccine rollout proceeds. Nevertheless, this still high percentage of vaccine-hesitant people threatens to undermine the possibility of getting back to normality through achieving herd immunity.

So how to persuade vaccine hesitant folks to get vaccinated? One suggestion is to issue immunity "passports" to fully vaccinated or fully recovered people. This has been happening since last month in Israel, where public health authorities are issuing Green Passes that grant vaccinated or recovered citizens access to social, cultural, and sports events as well as to gyms, hotels, and indoor dining at restaurants and bars. The passport system appears to have encouraged more people, especially the young, to get vaccinated.

Wouldn't such immunity passports discriminate against people who want to be vaccinated but aren't able to yet? George Washington University physician and health policy professor Leana Wen and her colleagues acknowledge that concerns about that kind of discrimination are real, but they point out that the "lack of access to vaccines will be a problem for just a matter of months as the distribution speeds up." Leana and her colleagues argue that the bigger worry is "continued lack of herd immunity," since that "could extend the current crisis for years to come with significant impacts on all communities."

My Reason colleague J.D. Tuccille rightly worries that public health authorities could abuse such immunity passports. Nevertheless, since COVID-19 vaccination rates will vary greatly across the world for at least the next couple of years, some form of proof of vaccination will be undoubtedly required for international travel.

Beyond that, the accelerating distribution and administration of COVID-19 shots could make the incentive value of COVID-19 passports more or less moot. President Joe Biden just today announced that 90 percent of American adults will be eligible for the vaccination by April 19. The cohort of vaccine-hesitant Americans will shrink as ever more happily and now safely immune family members, friends, and neighbors urge them to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated.

Disclosure: I am now two weeks past my second dose of the Moderna vaccine, from which I experienced no side effects whatsoever.

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  1. The Lizard People are in favor of the vaccine, and the Amphibian People are against it! I am against the Amphibian People (such as Pepe the Stolen-IP racist-frog, NAZI-frog, etc.), and so, on that basis, I get my first shot the day after tomorrow, actually!

    (I thought y’all would like to know, and were waiting with bated breath, so here you go!)

    1. Did you thank operation warp speed yet? It was your current cult leaders who were against the vaccine because trump was leading the effort. Weird.

      1. Do you even remember the first time you sold out?

        1. I remember the first time you posted and whined like a TDS bitch.

          1. You do? Because Tony there has been here a whole.

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        2. To what? The truth? When was the vaccine created? Under what program were resources given?

          1. “If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it,” Harris said.


          2. “Let me be clear: I trust vaccines,” Mr. Biden said. “I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump, and at this moment, the American people can’t either.”
            “Scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars any more than the virus does,” he said. “They certainly don’t adhere to election cycles. And their timing and their approval and their distribution should never, ever be distorted by political considerations. It should be determined by science and safety alone.”


            1. Unfortunately, however, enough Americans trusted Donald Trump and voted for him, and he got in thanks to the Electoral College, and Donald Trump got us into this mess in the first place, because of his extremely cavalier and irresponsible attitude towards the Covid-19 virus, thus resulting in a pandemic that unnecessarily cost the lives of over half a million Americans, and that’s still out of control thanks to the irresponsible f**ks who continue to flout the rules for mask wearing in public and social distancing

          3. So do you care to explain why you have both the DNCs and Sqrslys dick in youre mouth farfromperfect?

            Or were you just uneducated as usual

      2. Gonna have to ask for a cite on “It was your current cult leaders who were against the vaccine …”

    2. Congrats! Got my first dose a week ago.

      Have to admit I cannot keep track of who Pepe and others are in SQRLSY speak.

      1. Gonna have to ask for a cite on that …

      2. I got my second Covid-19 vaccination dose just this past Sunday, and I’m glad to get it over with, and I’m glad that I was vaccinated. It’ll take at least a couple of weeks for the vaccine to kick in, if one gets the drift.

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    4. The Accelerating Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines Makes Domestic ‘Immunity Passports’ Largely Irrelevant Vaccine hesitancy will decline as more family, friends, and neighbors get vaccinated………….MORE DETAIL.

  2. “asymptomatic disease, vaccinated people are unlikely to harbor undetected infections that could transmit the virus to unvaccinated people.”

    Dumbass, this is unlikely anyway. Healthy, immune people (aka asymptomatics) do not pass on the disease in any numbers worth counting. Respiratory viruses create symptoms (e.g. coughing, sneezing, etc.) in order to spread themselves.

    1. The CDC even backed this up quietly as a foot note in their studies on school transmissions. But Bailey will stick with the models that say it is possible instead.

      1. None of it is relevant anyway. Restricting the liberty of indviduals unless they show their health papers is a gross violation of civil rights. Period. Full stop.

        Nothing else is relevant.

  3. My Reason colleague J.D. Tuccille rightly worries that public health authorities could abuse such immunity passports. Nevertheless…..

    I’m going to stop you right there. If the government can abuse something, they will. But it’s not just the “public health” authorities you gotta worry about, it’s the regular authorities.

  4. If there is a way for the left wing asshats to pit us against each other they will happily embrace it.

    Lucky I live in a rational state that doesn’t let these kinds of retards have any power.

  5. The vaccine passport has nothing to do with Wuhan virus, it will be used to track the bad non-compliant people.

    1. Another foot in the door to “correct citizen behavior” from the left.

    2. Exactly.

      Wait until your credit cards get cut off for not having your passport. To “stop the spread”.

      1. No more contactless delivery for you! Get in your car and go to the grocery store like the caveman you are!

  6. Weren’t we at damn near estimated 40% herd immunity by the end of December 2020 without the vaccine?

  7. The science behind the “70-85% for herd immunity” is about as strong as the science behind the “6′ social distancing” rule – that is, not very strong at all. Studies that use realistic estimates of the various factors (instead of reflexively using the worst-case estimates) suggest that herd immunity will be achieved at much lower levels. Possibly as low as 30-40%. And that’s before you factor in the people who have had the disease (symptomatically or otherwise) and recovered – some of whom will also get vaccinated.

  8. I continue to refuse to accept any documentation that purports to “give” me my rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.
    (travel freely, keep and bear arms, assemble, redress grievances, the whole works)
    They can take that phone app and put it up their facebook.

  9. Cotdammit Bailey, you are a useless fvck. Dont worry about Warp Speed Authoritarianism, just because

  10. even with those who do not want vaccines, there is no reason for vaccine passports….. this is a pure power grab to control you and your choices and to normalize that practice.

    if that last 30% does not want to get vaccinated, the risk is all theirs. the distributed immunity will still be high enough to keep transmission rates well below what will overwhelm hospitals. (remember…… the excuse/reason for all the restrictions.) the only ones getting seriously sick will be them, and the distributed immunity will have them doing so at a rate low enough to not break healthcare…

    and after they catch it….. they have immunity and contribute to herd immunity whether they want to or not.

  11. It doesn’t matter if they’re irrelevant or not. The fact that people in power are even considering them should be appalling to you. What more gross violation of civil rights could there possibly be, than to restrict a person’s liberty unless they show their health papers?

    This should be resisted by any means.

    1. It will not be resisted. It will be eagerly awaited. People have been trained to crave safety over liberty. Plus, if you have an immunity passport, that makes you more virtuous than those without. It’s a smug feeling.

  12. au contraire.
    if 50% of your political opponents refuse the shot, you can then stop them from traveling.

  13. possibility of getting back to normality through achieving herd immunity.

    Except we don’t need herd immunity. We just need to flatten the curve of hospitalizations and deaths. And we did that so we’re already done. If a few people get the virus, no big deal. Certainly, it’s not worth keeping businesses and schools closed. Demanding herd immunity just subjects us to the whim of people who want to take down the economy even if it kills them. And yes there are millions of such people.

    1. Oh good glad you’re on our side now. Hey schmuck you know what we ended most flatten the curve lockdowns months ago. Only the idiots here and in the major flatulent media still think it’s a thing.

      You mean the 1% can’t take their cruises and expensive ski trips! Sure they can like Joe they fly private class. The rest of us work for a living and we don’t shut down for the flu. Fuck the assholes in the federal government who aspire to control every aspect of life.

      1. I’m more of a libertarian than you can hope to be. And yes we must abolish social security and medicare. Then we can cut taxes. You don’t have the right to sell the next generation into decades of debt slavery to fund your retirement.

  14. There is no prospect whatever that the government is going to require vaccine passports–what is much more likely, and is already being attempted by DeSantis in FL, is that it will ban *private* industries from using them. This of course is an anti-libertarian restriction on prvate enterprse, but I somehow doubt that the right-wingers disguised as libertarians, so comonplace in the comments section here, will object.

    1. “This of course is an anti-libertarian restriction on prvate enterprse”

      No it isn’t and this is a stupid take. One of govt’s actual duties is to protect rights, including the right to travel and engage in commerce.

      You’re a leftist shill and your assertion was moronic.

  15. The vaccine passport idea is straight totalitarianism, and a big fucking issue.
    We’re past the point where peace is a safe choice.
    No communication with the left that isn’t kinetic now.

    1. Yeah, but watch, it’s not going to be government forcing you have the passport. They will make it optional. Private sector will demand the passport. It’s already required to go to a large venue in NYC. That, or a neg test. But NYC did not mandate that. The venues themselves did. It’s like censorship, the government need not lead the way if the private sector does it for them.

  16. I really wish people would stop saying that vaccine hesitancy is going to make it difficult to reach herd immunity. Herd immunity is inevitable and trivial to achieve. How have we already forgotten Sweden’s attempt at herd immunity 9 months ago by doing nothing?

    The vast majority of folks who don’t get immunity via vaccine will get it via the virus. Hospitals are typically underutilized over the summer. Once everyone has been offered the vaccine, we actually ought to encourage high risk behavior, so they get the virus over the summer instead of during winter when hospitals are usually at capacity. The vaccine is near-perfect. Protecting the vaccinated from the unvaccinated is unnecessary. Protecting the unvaccinated is counterproductive.

  17. What’s more fun is that there are more than a dozen or more competing vaccination passports being developed. Hopefully, the government will issue us all briefcases to carry all our passports around.

    1. It will work out just like all the contract tracing apps, which almost no one installed.

    2. do we really need 23 different types of vaccine passports when children are starving?

  18. I seem to recall that at the beginning of this, Mr. Bailey wanted a passport for people who had caught and recovered from the virus

    So it’s not too surprising he isn’t alarmed and outraged by this proposal…

  19. Remember when Alex Jones got kicked out of polite society for saying that mandatory vaccinations were coming?

    Good times.

  20. How cute, you think internal ‘immunity’ passports are about immunity.

  21. “Double shot of my Covid drug,
    Double shot of my Covid drug.
    I can give my grandma a hug,
    Since we had a double shot of our Covid drug.”

  22. It won’t be long before the politicians will style them “health passports” rather than “vaccine passports” and add more requirements to get one. Every “progressive” obsession will be regarded as a “public health” issue.

    1. Bingo!

  23. I got the first shot yesterday. In Illinois though an Iowa resident. 28 days from now I will get the second. I went out to dinner Saturday night with friends. Half the waitstaff did not wear masks. I did not wear mine. Iowa has been doing well lately despite our “Neanderthal” thinking. I do not hear the media calling out our leaders for being wrong, but the media is our enemy.
    My wife and daughter went 60 miles away for my nieces bridal shower at my sisters house. I asked if they wore masks and they said no because my niece, the future bride, did not. My sisters and other nieces did. I am not sure if we have a{nother} big divide in the family now mask/no mask. Also, my wife and daughter both work in the medical industry and have been at times been pains about my wearing a mask but they have realized it is just a show. They tell me how the rule in the office is to always wear a mask but management breaks the rule all the time.

  24. By failing to acknowledge that past covid infections confer immunity to virtually everyone (just 11 cases of reinfection are known in the US, and 54 worldwide), Ronald Bailey is endorsing and promoting Anthony Fauci’s longstanding but fraudulent assertion that past covid infections do NOT confer immunity.

    Since 9.37% of Americans have tested positive for covid, and since CDC estimates 4.6 times more Americans were infected than tested positive, about 43% of Americans have been previously infected, and virtually all of them remain immune
    (.0937 x 4.6 = .431).

    While 28.6% of Americans have received a 1st covid vaccine dose, about 43.1% of them were already immune (due to past infection, and due to CDC/FDA/Fauci’s refusal to make antibody tests available to determine past infection). And since the 1st vaccine dose appears 90% effective, 1st doses of vaccine have conferred immunity to an additional 14.6% of Americans (.286 x .569 x .9 = .1464).

    Although 15.8% of Americans have received a 2nd covid vaccine dose, since about 43.1% of them were already immune (due to past infection), since 90% of the rest were already immune (due to 1st vaccine dose), the 2nd vaccine doses have only conferred immunity to about 0.9% of Americans (.158 x .569 x .1 = .0089).

    In sum, according to CDC data and infection rate estimate, 43.1% of Americans are now immune from covid (due to past infection), 14.6% of Americans are now immune from covid (due to 1st vaccine dose), and 0.9% of Americans are immune (due to 2nd vaccine dose), for a total of 58.6% of Americans who are now immune from covid (43.1% + 14.6% + 0.9% = 58.6%).

    By failing to mention that past infections confer immunity, Bailey is promoting the Big Pharma/Fauci fraud that only vaccines can confer immunity, which is public health fraud of the worst kind.

    The good news is that dozens of states are very close to achieving herd immunity.

    1. According to the most recent projections (March 25) by worldometers (at Oxford), the US will experience a 50% decline in new covid infections during the next month, and 35 states will experience declines of at least 50%.

      They also project 15 states (AR, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH) will experience 25%-50% declines in new covid infections during the next month.

      Just one state (SC) is projected to experience a decline of <25%.

      Herd immunity is coming to the USA.

  25. Papiere, bitte.

  26. “..worries that public health authorities could abuse such immunity passports.” Ya think? They are already abusing the thought of these v-p against those who most likely have a good reason to Not get vaccinated. That is Discrimination!! Period. I have a friend who is taking heart medication & NONE of the vaccines have been tested against these medications. His doctor, rightly, has advised AGAINST vaccination. He is to be discriminated against because of his heart condition? Is that truly the American way? Is this the America we want to be a part of?

  27. since COVID-19 vaccination rates will vary greatly across the world for at least the next couple of years, some form of proof of vaccination will be undoubtedly required for international travel.

    And that is where they should remain in use. It is pretty obvious that most of the people commenting on this site have never been outside the US and probably don’t even have a passport. So be it. No need to upset their tiny brains.

    But whatever that international proof of vaccination – it should not be digital if it is either governmental or governmentally-approved (meaning private). So sorry you techie assholes. No intermediary crony corruption for you.

  28. This article, as well as every other discussion that I have been reading/hearing, does not address the huge population of those who already HAVE immunity because they have contracted and recovered from Covid. Where are the provisions for those people to “prove” that they are immune and there is no reason to think that they will be likely to spread the virus to others?

    It’s not SAFE for those who have natural immunity to get two doses of vaccine—they are seeing real and serious reactions in those cases. It’s also crazy and unfair to ask the immune to get a further vaccine; it’s like asking a non-immune person to get 4 Pfizer shots instead of two.

  29. The “Libertarian Moments” just keep coming at Reason today.

    First it’s #LibertariansForCCPOrganHarvesting, now #LibertariansForCoercedMedicalExperiments. I see a trend. Time to invest more in the government enabled rent-seeking medical mafia.

  30. “Everybody is just gonna bend over anyway …”

    Libertarian Moment!

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