COVID-19 Vaccine Pass Policies in Korea and Around the World
COVID-19 Vaccine Pass Policies in Korea and Around the World
  • Reporter Kim Seo-jin
  • 승인 2022.02.26 20:34
  • 댓글 0
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▲QR codes used for implementing COVID-19 vaccine pass in Korea / Yonhap News
▲QR codes used for implementing COVID-19 vaccine pass in Korea / Yonhap News


This article was written with the latest information available on Feb. 12, and policies may have changed afterward.

Since the COVID-19 vaccine was distributed across the world, there have been debates about whether vaccinations should be mandatory or not. The most extreme measure for pressuring COVID-19 vaccinations was implementing a vaccine pass policy. A vaccine pass refers to an official record of one’s COVID-19 vaccination status for use in public facilities. 
Since Jan. 17, the Korean government has been completely implementing a COVID-19 vaccine pass policy. Citizens who have not passed the expiry date of 180 days after getting their second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine (including the two-week period), or have not had their booster shot (third shot) are restricted from visiting public facilities. People who are not fully vaccinated must acquire a COVID-19 PCR negative test result or a COVID-19 Ag negative test result within 48 hours in order to be treated the same way as those who are vaccinated. If not, the unvaccinated cannot access a wide range of public facilities.
In addition to the vaccine pass policy, businesses must close by 9 P.M. and private gatherings are limited to six people. All businesses must comply with the time limits stated in the COVID-19 government guidelines, and private gatherings of more than six people, regardless of the party members’ vaccination status, are strictly prohibited.
Although these policies have been valid for almost a month now, many experts are skeptical about their effectiveness. Ever since the Omicron variant has become dominant, the number of confirmed cases has been skyrocketing in spite of the strict COVID-19 vaccine pass rules. The Korean government predicted that by the end of February, there will be more than 130,000 daily confirmed cases. The sudden increase in the confirmed case count has raised doubts about the necessity of such tight regulations. 
COVID-19 vaccine pass policies vary around the world. European countries are especially moving towards lifting COVID-19 regulations. For instance, on Feb. 11, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of France announced that starting from Feb. 28, with a COVID-19 vaccine pass, French citizens will no longer be obliged to wear a mask while accessing public venues. Regarding vaccinations in France, 79% of the French population have completed their second vaccination, and 55% have had their booster shot. 
In January, Israel decided to abolish their vaccine pass policies. Nadav Davidovitch, professor of Ben-Gurion University and COVID-19 Response Advisory Committee Chairman of Israel, explained, “COVID-19 response measures that were effective before are no longer adequate. At this point, we recommend taking the COVID-19 Ag test. At first, COVID-19 Ag test kits were expensive and difficult to access, but now the government has lowered its price, and to children, test kits are offered for free.” While easing quarantine measures, Israel chose to focus on taking care of high-risk confirmed cases.
The UK also overturned many of its COVID-19 policies. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, announced plans to end its self-quarantine regulations by the end of February. This rather radical announcement made the UK an outlier regarding COVID-19 precautions. The UK has already abolished mandatory mask rules and vaccine pass policies, and the number of daily confirmed cases is gradually decreasing after a peak of 218,724 cases on Jan. 4. 
However, Jung Jae-hoon, professor of Gachon University of Medicine and Science, Department of Preventive Medicine, highlighted the importance of quarantine regulations. He said, “Quarantine measures must be maintained until the virus spread hits its peak, and can only be eased after checking how long the medical system can withstand the peak of the epidemic.” In Korea, the number of daily confirmed cases is still increasing, so more caution is needed when lifting COVID-19 related quarantine regulations.
As implementing a vaccine pass is a critical issue that has both pros and cons, social discussion regarding this policy is needed.

▲Illustration of COVID-19 vaccination / CDC
▲Illustration of COVID-19 vaccination / CDC