[OPINION] Be ready with your ‘vaccine passport’ to live and enjoy life for the greater good amid the escalating threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant 

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SOCIAL CONTRACT is defined in political philosophy as “an actual or hypothetical compact, or agreement, between the ruled or between the ruled and their rulers, defining the rights and duties of each…They then, by exercising natural reason, formed a society (and a government) by means of a social contract,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

We all are part of the social contract as we live in a society, in a nation, in the United States of America or elsewhere around the world. There is no greater benefit we can get from being part of this social contract than when we are under threat as in a war, and we are right now and have been in a war zone against the invisible enemy, COVID-19, for one and a half years now.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 4.23 million people around the world. Here in the United States, it has taken the lives of 633,863 people, and this number continues to grow with the emergence of the Delta variant, which has pushed the resurgence of infection rate to more than 100,000 new cases per day.

Consider the following facts as reported by the Associated Press:

The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States crossed 100,000 new confirmed daily infections Saturday, a milestone last exceeded during the winter surge and driven by the highly transmissible delta variant and low vaccination rates in the South.

Health officials fear that cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to soar if more Americans don’t embrace the vaccine. Nationwide, 50% of residents are fully vaccinated and more than 70% of adults have received at least one dose.

“Our models show that if we don’t (vaccinate people), we could be up to several hundred thousand cases a day, similar to our surge in early January,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said on CNN this week.

It took the U.S. about nine months to cross 100,000 average daily cases in November before peaking at about 250,000 in early January. Cases bottomed out in June, averaging about 11,000 per day, but six weeks later the number is 107,143.

If we are seriously committed to defeating the virus to save lives and be back on track to living close to our normal lives — before COVID-19 invaded and disrupted our lives and killed so many people — then we, as part of our social contract, should do our share in making sure every one of us will be using all possible tools, arsenal and means to defeat our enemy.

People who peddle disinformation because of selfish political interests to con people into not abiding by the terms and conditions of our social contract should be prosecuted as war criminals who are siding with the enemy.

We all need to abide by these two safety measures to give us a fighting chance to defeat COVID-19 and its variants: 1) Get vaccinated and 2) Wear masks.

The deadlier and more contagious Delta variant has been infecting the unvaccinated, which comprise half of our people. Those who are vaccinated are 99.99% protected by the vaccine, saving them from the deadly symptoms of the virus in the few cases of breakthrough infection. Vaccines work and soon, Pfizer will be granted final approval after being given an emergency use authorization, which has already saved so many lives, lowered infection, hospitalization and death rates.

However, the most vulnerable sectors of our society are the kids who cannot be inoculated yet. The fierce Delta variant does not spare them, and there is now a growing number of children hospitalized and are in critical condition in the ICU. This is because the virus can be transmitted even by the vaccinated people to the unvaccinated, and this is why we ALL should continue to wear masks to save their lives.

If we want to enjoy the benefits of eating out, attending concerts, traveling, working out in the gym, shopping, and other activities we have been missing because of the pandemic, then we have to earn that privilege.

We need to be vaccinated so we become part of the solution and not the problem; so we become part of those who will survive the threat of the virus instead of being part of the statistics of those killed by the invisible enemy just because of our stubbornness and lack of respect and regard for life and the greater good.

One of the tools being used to screen who will be given the privileges is the vaccine passport, already being used in Europe, where most citizens are truly committed to doing their share to save lives.

Here in the United States, government institutions and private businesses are on track to require vaccine passports, particularly in states with larger populations like California and New York. These are two states that are also home to the biggest numbers of Filipinos in America.

More importantly, these vaccine passports will be required for employment, school enrollment in addition to the aforementioned privileges above. Again, these are part of our social contract we need to abide by for the greater good.

Facts about vaccine passports as reported by CNN:

Rather than misplace your vaccination card, you can log your vaccination status on your phone to use as proof as you reenter public spaces. You’ve got a few options for confirming you’ve been vaccinated, from scannable QR codes to scanned documents that live among your digital files, versions of “vaccine passports” that can get you in venues that only allow vaccinated patrons.

Here’s how to record your vaccination record on your phone so your small, CDC-issued vaccination card can stay safe at home.

Some states allow residents access to a digital vaccine record: Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, Washington and West Virginia (plus Washington, DC) use the free service MyIR Mobile; Californians can visit myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov to access their records and New Yorkers can use the app Excelsior Pass, which we’ll use as an example.

To use Excelsior Pass:

You’ll need to enter some personal information at epass.ny.gov.

Once you’ve verified your identity, you can access a pass with a QR code unique to you. You can add this digital pass to the Excelsior Pass app, available for both iPhone and Android, or print it for a physical copy.

Users of Excelsior Pass and California’s My Vaccine Record will receive a QR code that businesses can scan to confirm patrons are vaccinated against Covid-19. But both services are specific to these states: If you weren’t vaccinated in California or New York, you won’t be able to access your information with these apps.

Several apps that consumers already use as entry through airport security or into sporting events can hold your proof of vaccination. Insider lists Clear, CommonPass and VeriFly as reputable apps for storing this information.

Apps like Clear rely on biometrics — namely, detailed scans of your face — to verify information, so the standard privacy concerns apply.

Digital vaccination records may be the most convenient way to prove your Covid-19 vaccination status going forward — and your ticket back to normalcy.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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