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Vaccination refusal: fear of restricted travel and public access

TRAVEL NEWS – January 28, 2021: While Americans waiting to be vaccinated, a majority of vaccine skeptics have highlighted serious concerns about the personal data related to the COVID-19 vaccination process. In addition to concerns about the effect or side effects of the vaccine, they also find the processing of personal data worrisome. Add to that concerns about access to travel destinations, public companies and even their own workplace. This is according to the 2021 Vaccines and Privacy Study of NordVPN among 1.000 American adults, which found that 69% fear that COVID-19 vaccination databases will eventually be hacked.

Also read: World travelers survey: Are you vaccinated to be able to travel again?

IATA urges support for European digital vaccination certificate

Also in Europe are there concerns. Not so much because of the safety of the vaccine, but about the safety of the processing and storage of personal data. IATA recently urged all European Union branches to support an initiative by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to agree on a common digital European COVID-19 vaccination certificate, which allows vaccinated people to travel freely within Europe without COVID-19 testing.

While the idea will be a great boost for general security and the travel industry in general, a digital vaccination certificate also poses a risk as digital databases can be hacked.

More background information about the digital vaccination passport: IATA Unveils Mobile Travel Pass With Vaccine Information | ePassport

Hacks and medical records

When asked what worries respondents most when hackers need to access COVID-19 vaccination databases, 32,9% fear that their vaccination records could be stolen and used by someone else. 21,5% are concerned that their vaccination records may be lost and 14,6% are concerned that their warning of receiving a new vaccine dose may not get through. 31,0% were not concerned.

In addition, 81,4% of Americans are concerned that the personal health information collected from them could be hacked and sold to, for example, health insurers.

Travel and leisure

Overall, 68,9% of Americans are concerned that they will not be able to travel (by plane, bus, or train) if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19. 38,8% are even very concerned. The anxiety about traveling without vaccination of males (71,5%) were higher than females (65,7%), while the same concern among age groups was as follows:

  • 74,1% for those aged 25-44
  • 71,6% for those aged 18-24
  • 65,2% for those aged 45-64
  • 57,6% of the over-65s

When it comes to accessing public places without being vaccinated against COVID-19, 76,7% of Americans are concerned and 38,4% are very concerned. This fear of being unvaccinated and being shunned from public places is the same for both men and women (77%), while the concerns by age group were as follows:

  • 81,0% for those aged 25-44
  • 79,5% for those aged 45-64
  • 68,9% for those aged 18-24
  • 67,5% of the over-65s

Employer survey

Nearly half of Americans (47,8%) are concerned about their privacy with regard to employers who will use screening technology (for example, with a fever-temperature laser) once they return to work. Many employers have already started this or will soon start screening. Those who have worked from home during the pandemic are 60% more concerned about privacy issues with fever screening than those who have not worked from home.

“The coronavirus pandemic has created the ideal environment for bad actors to prey on people's fears and vulnerabilities during this period of uncertainty,” said Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “With vaccine data in their hands, vaccine fraudsters will grab every available channel, including email, automated voice messages, text messages, ad banners, social media, direct mail, robo calls, to get in touch and try to take advantage. So people should take all possible security steps to protect their health information.

Sources: IATA, NordVPN en traveldailynews
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